For the last two and a half decades Australia has enjoyed sustained economic growth, booming employment and favourable living standards. But in more recent years, the country’s high labour costs have forced many companies to source products and services overseas, leading to a slump in Australian productivity.
With increasingly tough competition from developing nations this trend is set to continue, leaving legitimate concerns about our ability to thrive as a commodity-based economy; and therefore our future prosperity.
Meanwhile, the word ‘Innovation’ has dominated political and business discourse for quite some time – portrayed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as the silver bullet to transitioning Australia’s economy.
But if ‘Innovation’ is to successfully create long-term productivity growth across all sectors, it needs to be more than just a buzzword. Optimising R&D, reforming our approach to risk and entrepreneurship, transforming our scientific and digital capabilities and growing the industries of the future. These are all complex, weighty challenges, demanding not just significant investment, but genuine structural change.
Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) was launched in December 2015 as part of the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). It is an independent statutory board responsible for researching, planning and advising the Government on all innovation, science and research matters.
ISA Chair Bill Ferris AC spoke to us in an exclusive interview, ahead of his presentation at the AFR Innovation Summit, and in the lead up to ISA’s highly anticipated 2030 Strategic Plan for Australian innovation. He acknowledges a number of challenges facing the nation in becoming a top-tier innovation nation.
One of his primary concerns is ensuring our education system is equipping Australian school leavers and VET and higher education graduates for the continuing wave of technological change and the shift to a highly innovative Australian economy and society.
“Alarming decline in student participation and performance in STEM subjects is a significant challenge for the Australian economy moving into a more innovative and technologically enabled future”, he says.
ISA’s 2030 Strategic Plan will set out five key imperatives for lifting Australia’s innovation performance and will align these five imperatives with twenty plus key recommendations to government.
Hear more from Mr Ferris about Australia’s innovation strategy at the Australian Financial Review’s Innovation Summit in Sydney on 19-20 September.
Learn more and book your place here.
– Amy Sarcevic, Informa Australia