PM Turnbull – Innovation’s Messiah or Just a Very Naughty Boy?

This may be the least wise, least prudent post I have ever made. I’ve typed, and deleted, and re-typed that headline I don’t know how many times, and reminded myself of my determination to stay away from big-P-Politics and my even more fervent desire for this blog to avoid the question of Faith, but I keep coming back to it. So I’m just going with it, and I’ll trust that you’ll stay with me through the thought whether you agree with or respect it, or not.

Because, admittedly unusually, I’m not trying to be smart with the header. I *was*, certainly, when I first thought of it, but it actually says everything I want to caution against in one, highly unoriginal, bordering-on-inaccurate line IF, and again I stress IF, you’ve seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian. If not, oops (and, seriously, see the whole thing, not just the YouTube clips: it’s a whole-thing-thing). Continue reading

Stats, Data and Damn Lies – When Vanity Metrics Attack

I was writing something recently – actually, I’m actually writing something now, and this thought came to me, and rather than continuing to scribble it on the piece of paper I keep handy for just this sort of thing to stop me from getting distracted, I’m going to run with it. Hope it’s worth this rather shapeless intro.

I was making mention in the original document of the high percentage of Australian innovation workers in higher education and government, as opposed to business: hardly new statistics and, as always, I felt a little uneasy about them because as bad as they are, I always expect them to be worse.  For those who haven’t heard me on this particular soapbox, the official stats show 58.7% of Australian researchers are employed in higher education, with a further 8.9% in government. In fact, of the 34 countries surveyed, Australia was in the bottom 5 for its number of researchers employed in business*.  Continue reading

Laugh or You’ll Cry – the answer to a Skills Question is Seldom More of the Same

One of the few Australian’s to head a global super company, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Company, was in town yesterday with some hard truths regarding his homeland. While the headline of The Australian – “They’re Laughing at Us” – specifically related to our current political paradigm, Mr Liveris was not exactly enthused at our current innovation policy and specifically, the trend away from investment in R&D.  Continue reading

Reflections on the Budget – 2014

In every battle, there comes a point when the grinding of teeth, stomping of feet and name calling – the fun bit – has to end.  Reaching that point doesn’t mean They’re right, but rather that one is getting down to the business of the battle, channelling one’s efforts into something that will make a difference.  That first phase is just as important as the second – it’s where you build up the outrage, the energy-in-motion of emotion, to burn as fuel for those efforts. Linger there too long, however, and you’re likely to find yourself still holding the grenade when it goes off.  Continue reading

Why do we Need to Know about Commerce Anyway?

Cartoon 1For over a decade, multiple public and private sector reports have consistently identified the need for Australia’s graduates to acquire commercial savvy and innovative thinking in order to compete in a global marketplace for ideas. This is particularly so in the innovative industries which are widely accepted as the key to increasing productivity across economies, both directly and indirectly. However, as the Australian Research Council (ARC) noted in 2000, “Participation is unlikely by simply demanding that financiers take more risks or academics get involved for the good of society. It is important that action is taken to ensure that participation is based on mutual self-interest.” (Australian Research Council, 2000, p. 33)

Fundamentally, there are four reasons for innovators and creators to build and maintain a basic understanding of commerce, all of which can be seen as being entirely self-interested: Continue reading

Superman Squared?

Today is the day “Superman” is available for the masses in Australia (as opposed to yesterday, when it was open to everyone with time to queue). And while I’m a big fan of Henry Cavill as Christopher Reeve’s true successor, there is another contender for the title, albeit not filling the suit in a Cavill-esque way.

The position of Australia’s Chief Scientist has been filled by some remarkable people since its inception, but it’s questionable whether one has ever been more suited to their time than Professor Ian Chubb AC. Continue reading