Innovation Australia continued its role in promoting collaboration through an active program of strategic engagement. Innovation Australia considered a number of presentations that appraised the Board of recent developments across the innovation spectrum.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (ARC), Professor Margaret Sheil, addressed the Board on the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative and the ARC Linkages program. The Board observed that ERA data enables Australian researchers and institutions to identify their strengths and gaps relative to the sector, and monitor their ongoing performance. At a higher level of overview, the data provides the means to map and monitor clusters of excellence and their geographic locales. The ARC’s intention to broaden the scope of ERA reporting with an accompanying intention to improve innovation measurement can only make the resource more valuable to policy makers and the higher education sector.
The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Ms Patricia Kelly, addressed the Board on the work of the APS200 Project Committee and its recommendations to the Secretaries Board. The APS200 project examined innovation in the public sector as part of the implementation of recommendations arising in the report Empowering Change: Fostering Innovation in the Public Service. The Board supports the Committee’s recommendation for greater openness and improved collaboration and information sharing across government agencies. Collaboration is an essential early component of innovation, and new ideas like those coming out of the APS200 project can provide another driver for innovative activity in the private sector.
Innovation Australia participated in AusIndustry’s State-based R&D Tax Concession consultative fora during November and December 2010. The fora were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Hobart and focussed on the implementation of AusIndustry’s new compliance framework. The fora were well received and AusIndustry received valuable feedback from participants.
Mr Doron Ben-Meir, Chief Executive Officer of Commercialisation Australia, presented to the Board on the status of the Commercialisation Australia initiative. Australia is well represented with promising research and development activity, however the capital to get early stage ventures to the market place does not match this level of activity. Commercialisation Australia reviews proposals for research commercialisation and provides assistance through case managers and networks to steer new ideas through the final development stages and into the market place.
In its consideration of patient risk capital to assist early-stage ventures, the Board invited Ms Fiona Trafford-Walker, Managing Director of Frontier Investment Consulting to attend its August 2010 meeting. Ms Trafford-Walker presented the Board with an analysis of the Australian superannuation regime and the role of these fund managers as primary allocators of capital, and some of the challenges in diversifying its funding of asset classes.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the new Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, on 26 May 2011. Innovation Australia enjoys a productive relationship with the Office of the Chief Scientist both directly and through the Standing Committee of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC). Our discussions focussed on further advancement of the innovation agenda through PMSEIC and flagged future opportunities for strategic discussions between Professor Chubb and Innovation Australia.
Innovation Australia participated in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Chair's Workshop in Canberra on 1 March 2011. The workshops were established by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to provide valuable opportunities to strengthen networks between advisory bodies, facilitate collaboration and provide a forum to consider issues in conjunction with senior officers of the Department.
Mr John Ryan, Executive Director of Cloon Economics and member of the Government’s Carbon Capture and Storage Assessment Panel, provided Innovation Australia with an update on the current developments in the clean technology industry and the Government’s Clean Energy Initiative in July 2010. The knowledge and experience sharing in this meeting led to the identification of potential areas where greater collaboration could provide a more efficient delivery of the Government’s clean energy initiatives.
In February 2011, representatives from the Department’s Science and Infrastructure Division, presented to the Board on the National Research Infrastructure Council’s (NRIC) Strategic Framework and Roadmap. The Roadmap is developed in consultation with research and industry sectors and will inform future decisions on strategic infrastructure investments to develop research capacity and improve research outcomes over the next five to ten years. The Board supports the work undertaken on the research infrastructure roadmap and consider that it could assist industry access research services and strengthen future collaboration between researchers and industry.
Innovation Australia in collaboration with the Department, hosted the Powering Productivity through Innovation showcase in Melbourne in March 2011. The showcase was attended by around 320 AusIndustry customers and key stakeholders and featured 15 companies exhibiting hi-tech products that were developed or commercialised with the assistance of the Australian Government, including AusIndustry. The event promoted the engagement with new ideas and research to boost manufacturing and move towards a cleaner and more efficient future.
On 9 June 2011, members of Innovation Australia attended Markets, Money and Talent, a collaborative network event hosted at the Australian Technology Park by AusIndustry’s NSW State Office, Commercialisation Australia and ATP Innovations (ATPi). The event showcased successful companies undertaking innovation with the assistance of the Australian Government. Markets, Money and Talent facilitated networking between investors, fund managers, angel investors, entrepreneurs and researchers.
During the year, Innovation Australia considered reports to further its understanding of the contemporary innovation climate and inform its future strategic thinking. Reports reviewed by the Board included:
- reports on 2008-09 Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) and the Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) in October 2010
- the Climate Ready Outcomes Report in December 2010
- Measuring Innovation – A New Perspective in July 2010
- detailed reports on the status of the Tax Laws Amendment (Research and Development) Bill 2010 and the Income Tax Rates Amendment (Research and Development) Bill 2010 in July 2010
- details of the 2009-10 ABS annual survey on Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity in March 2011
- presentations on the Potential for Biomass Value Chains in Australia and Global Trends in Life Sciences and Biotechnology in May 2011
- the Murdoch University Report University Commercialisation in Australia - a review of current trends, and thoughts on how to achieve long term success in May 2011.