Well at least it’s not a Review – PM’s Roundtable to Seek Ways to Get Innovation out of Unis

According to Ben Potter in today’s Australian Financial Review, the Prime Minister is continuing his hands-on approach to tackling some of the seemingly intractable problems in the Australian Innovation System with a small and focused discussion in Western Sydney, touted by many (well, at least many in Western Sydney) as Australia’s current focal point for start-ups and innovation:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has summoned university and research agency chiefs to a private meeting on Friday aimed at finding ways to drive more industry collaboration and innovative businesses….It marks a return to “industry policy” more typically associated with Labor governments, but with less emphasis on “picking winners” and more emphasis on pushing researchers to see if they can turn their ideas into businesses.

And while I’m not at all sure about the call for Christopher Pyne to ‘release his inner revolutionary’, one can’t help hoping that from within the group of Bright Minds – CSIRO’s new-ish CEO Larry Marshall and Super Scientist Professor Ian Chubb are among the 20 attendees – there will be some frank and honest talk that admits if the higher education sector were going to come up with a solution to this problem on their own, they would have done so by now. Continue reading

Why the Discussion about Commerce in Innovation Mustn’t Be All about Start-Ups

Lately it seems every time I’m around a conversation about making the most of innovation, in no time flat it will transform into a soapbox about start-ups. Start-ups not being properly funded, the need for more start-ups, someone making a motza from a start-up. Granted, that is due in part to the fact that I’m currently developing a course called Conversational Commercialisation. And in part its probably because since I started Your Commercial Foundations (YCF), I’ve been practically chanting “Commerce is more than Commercialisation”, but Conversational Uptake just isn’t as catchy, so I’m irritated by my own shallowness the whole time I’m writing.

But that still leaves a large part that has everything to do with the broader shallowness that seems to fixate so many in the knowledge industries on the seemingly big bucks that commercialisation-through-start-up seems to promise everyone if only our innovation system would function optimally.  Continue reading

Collaboration is a Two-Way Street

I don’t like it when I disagree with someone I respect, particularly someone as accomplished as Professor John Bell FTSE. So when I felt my need to grab a soapbox after the launch at National Press Club of the report he co-authored under ACOLA’s auspices, The Role of Science, Research and Technology in Lifting Australian Productivity, I chose to take a good look at what I was really soapbox-y about. Good thing too, as it turns out.

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Why Outcomes without Uptake Isn’t Enough – Return on Australia’s Investment in Innovation Part III

In the last two posts I’ve been unravelling why, despite Australia’s consistent internationally comparable levels of investment in innovation, we are equally consistently slammed for our low levels of innovator-industry collaborations.  So far, we’ve noted that government invests funding to incentivize and stimulate innovation activities because, like any investor, it believes not only that it will receive a return on that investment, but that this return will be at least as valuable as any other use to which it could put that funding.  We’ve also established that the return governments are seeking on their investment is primarily about the economy-wide benefits that come from innovation spilling over and not simply benefitting the people who initially took the risk developing and implementing it. And that the fact these spillover benefits are generally several times the size of the innovators’ benefit is why many firms under-invest in innovation, which is why governments step in to stimulate investment. Which at first glance would seem to complete the circle nicely without having to even use the word ‘collaborate’. So where is the problem?  Continue reading

What’s the Big Deal About Innovator-Industry Collaborations? – Return on Australia’s Investment in Innovation Part I

Since the beginning of the noughties, the foremost issue in innovative industries has been uptake – establishing it, measuring it, commodifying it and competing with it.  Government’s have tried to compel it – by tying funding programs to it, offering funding to those who partner to produce it, demanding reporting on it and producing free advertising for those who succeed at it.  Yet despite the significant investment of public and private funds over this period, the 2013 Australian Innovation System Report echoes the sad refrain of at least a decade of reports, successive Chief Scientists and a variety of think tanks and consultants: Australia’s industry productivity and levels of business-to-research collaboration on innovation continue to compare poorly with other developed countries.  But why does that matter?  Continue reading