Tag Archives: Australian economy

cyber crime

Creating a secure and resilient economy

Collaboration is a term frequently used in business and across many industries. It’s one I have come to hear often across my Small Business, Innovation and Trade portfolios, and it is also a term that causes much confusion – what exactly is collaboration?

I am regularly asked this when I talk about collaboration and why I think it’s important. I concede that it can sometimes be thrown around so much that it starts to look like a meaningless buzzword, and has perhaps become something of a cliché used by people when they want to look like they’re solving problems or pursuing innovation.

That being said, I genuinely believe in the importance of collaboration. It’s important that we work with others, that we share our knowledge and our resources to get better outcomes to the challenges we are facing.

With the world becoming increasingly digitised, it has never been more important for collaboration to occur across all sectors of our own economy, and across global economies.

The online world knows no geographical boundaries. So we have no choice but to collaborate. We need to work with our industry bodies, with global organisations and other governments to ensure we have the best capabilities to deal with whatever comes our way.

The challenge of cyber crime

The ever growing cybersecurity industry is the perfect example of why we need global collaboration. Cybersecurity not only safeguards the digital economy so that it can continue to grow, generate jobs and create a resilient economy into the future, it also ensures our online privacy and prevents cyber crime.

The Internet of Things (IoT), along with other technologies, is creating an almost totally connected world – gone are the days when we only needed to worry about protecting our personal computers. Instead we now need to protect vast networks of devices that span our offices, building sites, shopping centres, public transport systems and homes.

In 2016, the average Australian household had nine internet connected devices. While this may seem like quite a substantial number, it is expected to more than triple to 29 by 2020 and will also include devices such as fridges, televisions and indeed entire households that will run remotely.

Predicting patterns of cyber crime

While the IoT offers exciting opportunities to enhance our lives, it also offers opportunities for hackers to commit cyber attacks. Unlike traditional forms of crime, these attacks don’t just come from people living in your neighbourhood, state or country, they can come from anywhere in the world at any time of the day and from any device.

The only way we can ensure that we are best prepared to deal with these attacks is if we can predict patterns of cyber crime and learn how to mitigate it – this is where collaboration becomes crucial.

Shared knowledge is not just a good way to combat cyber crime, it is in fact the only way we will be able to succeed against it. The biggest problem with combating cyber crime is the speed at which technology advances – meaning it is vital that various agencies and organisations around the world are working together and sharing their knowledge and experience concurrently.

While the benefits of working together to combat the world’s biggest form of crime has its benefits, collaboration across the cybersecurity industry is itself is very valuable with the potential to create huge economic benefits for those in the game. Currently, cybersecurity industry’s estimated worth is over US$71 billion globally. This value is expected to double by 2020.

This industry has the potential to be a huge driver for Australian jobs and the economy, which is why Victoria is investing heavily in collaboration and collocation of allied interests.

In the past two years we have created Australia’s biggest cybersecurity cluster right in the heart of Melbourne. This hub includes Data61, the digital research arm of the CSIRO and Australia’s leading digital research agency; and the Oceania Cyber Security Centre, which brings together eight Victorian universities and major private sector partners.

Collocating at the Goods Shed in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, the Oceania Cyber Security Centre will also work in partnership with Oxford University’s world-leading Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, Israel’s Tel Aviv University, and the State of Virginia, the largest defence state in the USA.

These organisations and initiatives are undoubtedly reputable and capable of doing great things. Combining their knowledge and resources in a collaborative way creates an internationally connected cybersecurity powerhouse.

In Victoria, we are now leading Australia’s cybersecurity industry and emerging as a dominant player in the Asia Pacific but we cannot do it alone – we have acknowledged that, we have made moves to change that. In doing so we are increasing our cybersecurity capabilities and helping our allies to increase theirs.

While cybersecurity is a great example of how collaboration is currently working to secure the future of our digital economy, in many jobs and across many industries the situation is the same. In truth, it is simple – if you don’t work with others and learn from their mistakes or value their skills, you are sure to fail.

Hon Philip Dalidakis MP

Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation & Trade

Read next: Professor Zdenka Kuncic, Founding Co-Director of AINST, sheds light on opportunities to collaborate and accelerate through the U2B model.

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Science Meets Business summit

Teachers and postdocs key to innovation

Featured image above: a series of four panels discussed STEM and innovation at the Science Meets Business summit

Australia should ‘hang its head in shame’ over our lack of support for teachers, says Ian Chubb AC, the ex-Chief Scientist of Australia, at the second national Science Meets Business event in Melbourne.

The gathering of CEO’s, board members, government, research leaders and start-ups focussed on improving collaboration and innovation in Australia’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and startup sectors.

As well as ensuring a strong STEM talent pipeline by improving support for teachers, a ‘simple but elegant’ national, industry-led PhD program is key to an innovative future, ANSTO CEO Adi Paterson said at the summit.

The summit heard how developing visible pathways to careers and skilling up students across humanities and STEM was important both to creating startups and improving existing business.

Labour’s Senator Kim Carr and Liberal Assistant Minister Craig Laundy brought the political grunt to a richly experienced series of four panels that covered taking startups to small to medium enterprises; Australia’s tech expertise; improving collaboration between research, government and industry; and looking for Australia’s ‘next big thing’.

The Science Meets Business summit is run annually by Science and Technology Australia. Science Meets Business publishers Refraction Media support the summit as media partner.

There is a need to refocus what we mean by innovation away from “hipster app developers” Senator Carr said, and towards innovation in existing business.

“It’s not possible to foster innovation without substantial investment in science and research,” said Senator Carr.

In a rare bipartisan agreement between the Liberal and Labour factions, The Honorable Craig Laundy MP also called out the need to solve problems in current business in a largely off-the-cuff speech that emphasised his own background as a publican, where innovation could be a new way to clean the taps – which could have involved three staff previously.

Laundy pointed out that there was a need for business to meet science as well as ‘science meets business’.

Developing language to bring together business, investment, researchers and students was one of the areas where Australia could be doing better, the summit heard.

“Innovation is not startups. We’re talking about the transformation of a whole economy,” said Adrian Turner, CEO of Data 61 and chair of the Cyber Security Growth Centre.

Turner went on to say that Australia must look away from Silicon Valley and towards its own opportunities where deep science meets fast-paced entrepreneurship.

Tech capability, biotech, agricultural innovation and defence were some of the strengths which set Australia apart from the rest of the world, the Science Meets Business summit heard.

“We need to lift the scale of our business-science ambition,” Turner said.

Got an opinion? Share your thoughts here or connect with us on Twitter.

– Heather Catchpole

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Advanced manufacturing

The advanced manufacturing flagship

We have a rich seam of transformative advanced manufacturers in Australia who are not only securing their own future; they are helping to underpin a sustainable Australian economy.

But our future in an uncompromising global economy is precarious. Few decision-makers in OECD countries believe they will remain prosperous without a thriving, high-tech manufacturing sector.

A prosperous Australia depends on supplying higher value solutions to the world – and the recent national focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is fundamental to this aspiration.

How can we, as a nation, facilitate this growth? The Federal Government’s Innovation and Science Agenda released last December is the most substantial recognition we have seen that advanced manufacturing is the future face of Australian industry. The agenda pulls a number of policy “levers”, and places unprecedented emphasis on leveraging our research excellence for greater commercial outcomes.

Of all the interventions of governments, however, the defence procurement “lever” obliterates all others.

Manufacturing’s best hope lies in “flagship” projects like Australia’s future submarine and shipbuilding programs. Some economists have estimated the knowledge spillovers from such programs produce multiplier impacts 2–3 times the initial investment. For example, one study estimates the Gripen multi-role combat aircraft project in Sweden generated at least 2.6 times the government investment in terms of additional production, and skills and knowledge transfer. What large national projects can mean for jobs growth, technology diffusion, skills development and market development in the short term is important. What they mean in the longer term is critical.


“The digitisation revolution will be a key enabler for Australian manufacturers to enter the global supply chain – it conquers distance and helps bring ideas into production sooner.”


For the advancement of Australian industry, we must ensure that Australian companies are actively engaged in the high value technology creation and development of large defence contracts. And these companies must be able to sustain their businesses through exports. Denmark and Sweden provide good examples of countries successfully exporting their defence capabilities. If Australia does not do the same, we doom our high value defence manufacturers to the same fate as the automotive sector.

Technological change doesn’t just bring disruption; it also brings opportunity. The digitisation revolution will be a key enabler for Australian manufacturers to enter the global supply chain – it conquers distance and helps bring ideas into production sooner. Digitisation will enable Australian manufacturers to leap ahead of many of our competitor nations.

And embracing the digital age requires greater emphasis on STEM education. In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.

With a thriving advanced manufacturing sector, employing a higher proportion of skilled engineers and scientists and successfully investing in research and development in order to stay at the leading edge in their sectors, we can ensure Australia’s continued prosperity.

John Pollaers, Chairman of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council

Read next: Vish Nandlall, Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer, on the skills we really need to be teaching our children.

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Collaborate or crumble

Collaborate or crumble

Bookshelves in offices around Australia groan under the weight of unimplemented reports of research findings. Likewise, the world of technology is littered with software and gadgetry that has failed to gain adoption, for example 3D television and the Apple Newton. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Adoption of research is a critical success measure for Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs). One CRC in particular, the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, has succeeded in having its research adopted by governments, companies and even the United Nations. Its secret is fruitful collaborations spanning diverse academic disciplines to deliver usable results. These are the kind of collaborations CRCs are well placed to deliver, argues Professor Rebekah Brown, project leader and former Chief Research Officer of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities and director of the Monash Sustainability Institute.

The best are not always adopted. To change that, says Brown, developers need to know how their research solutions will be received and how to adapt them so people actually want them.

“Physical scientists, for example, benefit from understanding the political, social and economic frameworks they’re operating in, to position the science for real-world application,” she says.

The big-picture questions around knowledge and power, disadvantage and information access, political decision-making, community needs and aspirations, policy contexts and how values are economised – these are the domains of the social sciences. When social science expertise is combined with that of the physical sciences, for example, the research solutions they produce can have a huge impact. In the case of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, such solutions have influenced policy, strategy and regulations for the management of urban stormwater run-off, for example. Brown and her colleagues have found it takes a special set of conditions to cultivate this kind of powerful collaborative research partnership.

The CRC for Water Sensitive Cities has seen considerable growth. It started in 2005 as a $4.5 million interdisciplinary research facility with 20 Monash University researchers and PhD students from civil engineering, ecology and sociology. The facility grew over seven years to become a $120 million CRC with more than 85 organisations, including 13 research institutes and other organisations such as state governments, water utilities, local councils, education companies and sustainability consultancies. It has more than 230 researchers and PhD students, and its work has been the basis for strategy, policy, planning and technology in Australia, Singapore, China and Israel.

in text green corridor
Blue and green corridors in urban areas are part of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities’ research into managing water as the world becomes increasingly urbanised.

In a 2015 Nature special issue, Brown and Monash University colleagues Ana Deletic and Tony Wong, project leader and CEO respectively of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, shared their ‘secret sauce’ on bridging the gap between the social and biophysical sciences, which allowed them to develop a partnership blueprint for implementing urban water research.


8 tips to successful collaboration

Rebekah Brown
Professor Rebekah Brown, courtesy of the Monash Sustainability Institute

Cultivating interdisciplinary dialogue and forming productive partnerships takes time and effort, skill, support and patience. Brown and her colleagues suggest the following:

1 Forge a shared mission to provide a compelling account of the collaboration’s overall goal and to maintain a sense of purpose for all the time and effort needed to make it work;

2 Ensure senior researchers are role models, contributing depth in their discipline and demonstrating the skills needed for constructive dialogue;

3 Create a leadership team composed of people from multiple disciplines;

4 Put incentives in place for interdisciplinary research such as special funding, promotion and recognition;

5 Encourage researchers to put their best ideas forward, even if unfinished, while being open to alternative perspectives;

6 Develop constructive dialogue skills by providing training and platforms for experts from diverse disciplines and industry partners to workshop an industry challenge and find solutions together;

7 Support colleagues as they move from being I-shaped to T-shaped researchers, prioritising depth early on and embracing breadth by building relationships with those from other fields;

8 Run special issues of single-discipline journals that focus on interdisciplinary research and create new interdisciplinary journals with T-shaped editors, peer-reviewers or boards.

Source: Brown, R.R, Deletic, A. and Wong, T.H.F (2015), How to catalyse collaboration, Nature, 525, pp. 315-317.


A recent Stanford University study found almost 75% of cross-functional teams within a single business fail. Magnify that with PhD research and careers deeply invested in niche areas and ask people to work with other niche areas across other organisations, and it all sounds impossible. Working against resistance to collaborate requires time and effort.

Yet as research partnerships blossom, so do business partnerships. “Businesses don’t think of science in terms of disciplines as scientists do,” says Brown. “Researchers need to be able to tackle complex problems from a range of perspectives.”

Part of the solution lies in the ‘shape’ of the researchers: more collaborative interdisciplinary researchers are known as ‘T-shaped’ because they have the necessary depth of knowledge within their field (the vertical bar of the T), as well as the breadth (the horizontal bar) to look beyond it as useful collaborators – engaging with different ways of working.

Some scholars, says Brown, tend to view their own discipline as having the answer to every problem and see other disciplines as being less valuable. In some ways that’s not surprising given the lack of exposure they may have had to other disciplines and the depth of expertise they have gained in their own.

“At the first meeting of an interdisciplinary team, they might try to take charge, for example talk but not listen to others or understand their contribution. But in subsequent meetings, they begin to see the value the other disciplines bring – which sometimes leaves them spellbound.

“It’s very productive once people reach the next stage in a partnership where they develop the skills for interdisciplinary work and there’s constructive dialogue and respect,” says Brown.

In a recent article in The Australian, CSIRO chief executive and laser physicist Dr Larry Marshall describes Australians as great inventors but he emphasises that innovation is a team sport and we need to do better at collaboration. He points out that Australia has the lowest research collaboration rates in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and attributes this fact to two things – insufficient collaboration with business and scientists competing against each other.

“Overall, our innovation dilemma – fed by our lack of collaboration – is a critical national challenge, and we must do better,” he says.

Brown agrees, saying sustainability challenges like those addressed by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities are “grand and global challenges”.

“They’re the kind of ‘wicked problem’ that no single agency or discipline, on its own, could possibly hope to resolve.”

The answer, it seems, is interdisciplinary.


Moving forward

Alison Mitchell
Alison Mitchell, courtesy of Vitae

There’s a wealth of great advice that CRCs can tap into. For example the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC approached statistical consultant Dr Nick Fisher at ValueMetrics Australia, an R&D consultancy specialising in performance management, to find the main drivers of the CRC’s value as perceived by its research partners, so the CRC could learn what was working well and what needed to change.

Fisher says this kind of analysis can benefit CRCs at their formation, and can be used for monitoring and in the wind-up phase for final evaluation.

When it comes to creating world-class researchers who are T-shaped and prepped for research partnerships, Alison Mitchell, a director of Vitae, a UK-based international program dedicated to professional and career development for researchers, is an expert. She describes the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), which is a structured model with four domains covering the knowledge, behaviour and attributes of researchers, as a significant approach that’s making a difference to research careers worldwide.

The RDF framework uses four ‘lenses’ – knowledge exchange, innovation, intrapreneurship [the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working with a large organisation] and entrepreneurship – to focus on developing competencies that are part and parcel of a next generation research career. These include skills for working with academic research partners and industry.


– Carrie Bengston

watersensitivecities.org.au

www.acecrc.org.au

Start-ups targeted for support

Start-ups targeted for support

Start-up businesses have been targeted for a high level of support in the PM’s Innovation statement, with major changes to tax regulations relating to investment in new businesses.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s first major economic policy launch since ousting Tony Abbott. It pledges an additional $1.1 billion of government spending over the next four years to foster investment in science and new technology.

Turnbull – a key player in Australian internet pioneer OzEmail in the 1990s – is well known for his support for the start-up sector.

Yesterday’s announcement follows on from the release of a report by the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council (AAMC) on Sunday calling for a raft of changes to how Australia encourages and retains innovative businesses.

Both the report and the government Innovation statement highlight the success of the UK Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, which has attracted more than AUD$500 million in its first two years of operation, money that has been invested in some 2900 companies.

The Australian scheme, which the government intends to launch in 2016, will offer a 20% tax refund on investments up to $200,000 per investor, per year, and a 10-year capital gains exemption on investments held for three years.

The AAMC report, How Australia Compares, examined the international competitiveness of taxation systems in encouraging investment capital, finding Australia ranked 10th out of the 12 nations compared. The report claims the existing R&D-based incentives have been outstripped by the incentives offered by international competitors.

AAMC chairman John Pollaers said: “This is an area of increasing competition internationally. As the report shows, our R&D tax credits are competitive.  But this is not giving us the edge. If we rest solely on our R&D scheme, we will get left further and further behind.”

In launching the new policy, Mr Turnbull asked, “What is going to drive Australian prosperity in the years ahead?” Where the mining boom that has supported the Australian economy in the recent past was tied to external demand, “our innovation agenda is going to help create the modern, dynamic 21st century economy Australia needs”, providing the foundation for a new type of economy.

While the government and the AAMC report each agree on the creation of a Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme-type fund, the report calls for more far-reaching reforms to the tax system, including reducing corporate tax on profits from Australian-generated IP to 10%.

The tax breaks for start-up businesses are among 24 new policy measures included in the Innovation statement; these aim to increase connections between businesses, scientific institutions such as CSIRO, and universities, as well funding to encourage high school students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

– Adrian Regan