ATSE believes that Australia’s productivity and competitiveness relies on an innovative industry sector
that embraces research, technological innovation, and local and international collaboration.
This Industry and Innovation Position Statement supports the ATSE 2013-2017 Strategy Plan
which sets out the priorities and approaches the Academy will take to promote the application of technological sciences and engineering into innovation for the benefit of Australia.
Australian industry competitiveness depends significantly on the ability to translate investment in science,
research and development (R&D) into economic benefits, and to lift productivity through the uptake of new
technology and technical innovations, including efficient capture of new innovations from overseas.
Productivity is a key driver of prosperity, economic growth and living standards.
Innovation linked with collaboration and good management has been shown to
directly enhance business productivity1
However, productivity growth in Australia has been flat or declining for a number of years, threatening our global competitiveness.
Contributing to this decline is the fact that, while Australia has a world-class research base, our performance in translating publicly funded research outputs into economic benefits is poor. This is compounded by having only some 40 per cent of Australian firms engaged in innovation – a number that has been stagnant for several years. This reflects, in part, that there is no innovation without
risk, and Australian businesses generally operate in a risk-averse environment. Further, Australia consistently ranks poorly on collaboration, whether business to business or researcher to business.
Lifting our industrial and business productivity through research, innovation and collaboration must be a key priority for Australia’s competitiveness.
To achieve this, Australia needs to rethink the way public money is applied to research and a renewed focus on high-technology high-value industries that drive productivity via technological innovation to produce high quality products and services. Diversification of Australia’s industry mix is also essential to ensure that our export base is less dependent on the resources sector.
Australia can do more to realise the full potential innovation dividend from its investment in science and technology R&D, particularly for Australian industry. Australia has strong competitive advantages in its skills, research base, political and legal institutions and high standards of living. Technological innovation can enable the opportunities from these strengths to be harnessed.
An overarching National Industry Innovation Strategy will provide a long term blueprint for industry innovation, scientific research, technology development and science, technology, engineering and maths education, supported by effective linkages and incentives. The Strategy will cover policy and practices that:
ATSE has identified the following four key action areas that must be addressed if Australia is to maximise the contribution of technology to innovation and productivity in industry:
Taking full advantage of Australia’s world-class research and realising the full innovation dividend for the economy requires significant improvements in the translation of research to business. Many systematic and cultural barriers exist, as well as market failures that can be profitably addressed by government action.
Incentivising and facilitating businesses, particularly SMEs, to efficiently adopt new technologies can further lift innovation, productivity growth and competitiveness.
Improving collaboration in Australia, between businesses and between business and publicly funded research organisations, will significantly enhance innovation.
International collaboration is also critically important. Both domestic and international collaboration improves the productivity and competitiveness of Australian technology-based firms.
Technological innovation is key to building industry competitiveness, through increasing productivity and reducing costs, realising commercial opportunities from research investment, and creating new areas of competitive advantage.
1 Bell, J, Frater, B, Butterfield, L, Cunningham, S, Dodgson, M, Fox, K, Spurling, T and Webster, E (2014). The role of science, research and
technology in lifting Australian productivity. Report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies, www.acola.org.au
Promoting Australia's advancement through technology