Tag Archives: science meets business

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

You might also enjoy:

Innovation breathes new life into old business

corporate culture

Smashing the glass ceiling

“Science Meets Business” – this is a beautiful thing. It does not get better than that for me, having trained as a scientist and worked for more than 30 years in business, including the past 27 years with Dow, one of the world’s leading science and technology companies.  At Dow we are proud of our mission to combine chemistry, physics and biology to create what is essential for human progress. As our ever growing population faces pressing challenges, we believe that innovation will be the key to addressing the needs of the future.

Implicit in this vision is that graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are readily available to drive innovation and progress humanity and, just as importantly, that the graduate pool reflects the diversity of our society in all its dimensions.

Over recent years, there has been an increasing recognition of the imbalance of women in STEM.  This has culminated in an impressive $13 million of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) funding being earmarked to support women in STEM careers including support for SAGE, Australia’s Science and Gender Equity initiative to promote gender equity in STEM.

Changing corporate culture

There is a real need for this concerted effort to address gender inequity. According to the Chief Scientist’s March 2016 report, women make up only 16% of Australia’s STEM Workforce.

The good news is that in recent years, a lot has been done to address the gender inequality issues.  We have a strong combination of social awareness, government policy and financial investment, corporate and business buy-in and social consciousness of the issue.

I have recently met a number of female board directors who have openly acknowledged that their appointment is due to the Victorian governments spilling of agency boards and establishing a 50% gender quota requirement. This is one example of real and substantial change.

Across the globe, Dow has over 1,600 employee volunteers, known as STEM Ambassadors, who are helping to bring STEM subjects to life in the classroom, and serving as role models of a diverse STEM workforce.

In partnership with the Women in Business Summit hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), Dow has also taken a leadership role to improve STEM career development opportunities for women.  We are progressing slowly, but steadily, with women constituting nearly 60% of new Australian and New Zealand hires at Dow in 2016.

With the $13 million NISA investment and the changing corporate culture, now is the perfect opportunity for young women to seek and develop a career in STEM.

Innovation in general will be the driving force of commercial success, economic growth and national development. A large part of this will come from R&D and innovation in STEM fields.

If the majority of future jobs are yet to be imagined, then women in particular are in a perfect position to seize the opportunity of creating these positions.

The management glass ceiling might exist today, but if the jobs are yet to be invented, then then we have a chance of shattering that ceiling in the future.

Tony Frencham

Managing Director & Regional President, Australia and New Zealand, Dow Chemical Company

Read next: CEO of AECOM Australia and New Zealand Lara Poloni explains why it’s important for women to stay connected with the workplace during a career break.

People and careers: Meet women who’ve paved brilliant careers in STEM here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com.

Spread the word: Help Australian women achieve successful careers in STEM! Share this piece on corporate culture using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Graduate Futures Thought Leadership Series here.

Science and business are centre stage

Science and business are centre stage

Science and innovation take centre stage today at the government’s launch of its National Science and Innovation Agenda.

High on the list of priorities is the focus on connecting the brightest minds in science and business to drive novel solutions and employment-boosting enterprises.

Refraction Media, publisher of the Science Meets Business website, welcomes the focus on collaborative partnerships between research and industry – connecting science and business.

“Australian scientists are producing world-class research within academia, research institutes and industry,” says Karen Taylor-Brown, Publisher at Refraction Media.

Taylor-Brown cites Australia’s development of the bionic ear and CSIRO’s pioneering wi-fi work as high profile examples of Australian innovation.

Lesser known is the 3D-absorbent fabric developed by CSIRO and Textor Technologies, which is being used in the next generation nappy by global brand Huggies; Vision CRC’s ongoing work in contact lens technology worn by millions worldwide; and the Total Channel Control System to rejuvenate outdated irrigation systems. Total Channel Control is now used around the world, and was jointly developed by the former CRC for Sensor Signal and Information Processing, and Rubicon Water.

“The opportunity lies in opening the doors of science to a dynamic and responsive business community.”

Businesses that work hand in hand with research organisations to innovate are three times more likely to prosper and grow.

– Karen Taylor-Brown

Science Meets Business is an independent news hub that celebrates and shares stories of Australian innovation while connecting the worlds of science and business.

“We need to link problems with skills, and the National Science and Innovation Agenda is certainly a step in the right direction,’ says Taylor-Brown.

Science Meets Business The New Class, how Australian innovation is making an impact on the world stage as businesses and researchers forge ahead into foreign markets

http://sciencemeetsbusiness.com.au/the-new-class/

For more information, contact Refraction Media, Karen@refractionmedia.com.au

A hand with a cartoon overlay describing the process from idea to product to innovation

Brace yourselves

Innovation works something like this. A research scientist has a brilliant idea. It’s developed into a product and commercialised. The general public love it and buy lots. The developers become wealthy. Many lives are greatly improved.

Sorry, let’s try again.

A research scientist has a brilliant idea. An arduous process follows to develop a product. Once it’s finally on the market, the public are afraid/suspicious of the underlying technology. Commercialisation fails. Few lives are improved.

Reality lies somewhere in between. Why? Let’s begin with a simple definition: innovation is doing clever stuff in a smarter way for a good outcome. It can be about a product, process or service. The impact can be grand or incremental.

To some, innovation means certain economic growth and social betterment. Examples of brilliant science leading to great products with huge consumer demand are smartphones, WiFi, organic light emitting diode televisions, robotics.

Planet-wide changes, such as population and climate, create unique challenges needing new solutions. Science, coupled with innovation, has the potential to create such solutions… if we get the innovation side right.

Unfortunately for Australia, 21st century innovation isn’t based on the good fortunes of geography, geology and climate. We’ve long relied on digging up resources and selling them overseas, or on fattening sheep and exporting them.

Now as Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist, articulates: “There’s no question that at some point our economy is going to have to shift and become substantially different from what it is now and be based on innovation.”

300 9516382_ml

There is a clear and growing chasm between where we are and need to be. Australia’s challenge is to bridge that gap and move towards a sustainable economy less vulnerable than the one to which we are sentimentally attached that’s previously yielded the nation’s prosperity.

Australia does good science and is, sometimes, creative. But we have a poor record of commercialising good science and understanding innovation. The 2012 Innovation System Report points to a shortage of management education and innovative culture and highlights an imbalance between government versus private R&D spending. There’s a lack of: R&D growth in key areas; business access to publicly funded research expertise; mobility of researchers between academia and business; and a concerted national science, technology and innovation strategy.

Increasingly, research highlights the importance of incorporating consumer needs into successful innovation strategies to ensure acceptance of new products or services. There are examples – such as genetically modified (GM) crops as an agricultural productivity solution – in which developers provide answers where few people saw a problem. Alternatively, members of the public may believe research wrongly crosses an ethical divide – embryonic stem cell research is an example. Public rejection also occurs with solutions such as nanotechnologies, where misinformation about risks dominates information flow about the science.

It’s not just about selling products harder or better explaining the science. I’ve spent years in discussions with people opposed to GM, nanotechnology and vaccinations and their issues are rarely with the science. It’s more about personal values: from concerns about messing with nature and ethical fears over genetic information misuse; to opposition against monopolising agri-conglomerates. Align a product with public values and it has a better chance of a dream run. Clash with those values and there could be trouble.

It makes sense to ask end-users what they want. If the public had been consulted about GM science back in the mid-1990s, for example, we may not have seen agricultural firms using the technology to develop herbicide- or pesticide-resistant broadacre crops, but perhaps non-food crops that produce pharmaceuticals or healthier foods, with more public support.

More contentious and innovative research is currently underway in Australia. The potential benefits are enormous. But their applications will need strong institutional support and community endorsement, skilled developers and sufficient funds for commercialisation. A lot of very clever people will need to cooperate in new ways to share old wisdom and new ways of thinking.

Craig square
Craig Cormick is Manager of National Operations, CSIRO Education

This is an edited version of an article from The Curious Country, ANU Press, 2013