Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda in Canberra today, an initiative he hopes will “usher in the ideas boom” in Australia.
Mr Turnbull highlighted key areas of the $1.1bn to be spent over the next four years as part of the innovation vision, which included plans and incentives to help Australia’s start-up businesses and to also help with the ‘commercialisation of ideas’ through increasing the collaboration between businesses, universities and the research sector.
The innovation package features key initiatives, including $106m in tax incentives for investors who provide seed funding in the early years of a venture’s creation.
The package also includes a new $200m CSIRO Innovation Fund that will invest in new companies and existing start-ups that will develop technology from the science agency and universities.
Medical research will also benefit with $250m going towards a Biomedical Translation Fund.
Four pillars of innovation
The innovation plan will be funded through four pillars – Culture and Capital, Talent & Skills, Collaboration and Government as Exemplar.
Mr Turnbull said his vision for innovation would focus on moving away from the reliance of the mining boom, and towards a new ‘ideas boom’ which will drive the economy.
“The mining boom, construction boom has been great for Australia, it has driven growth and incomes but, as we have seen, the mining boom inevitably has receded,” he said.
“What is going to drive Australian prosperity in the years ahead, how does our economy transition?
“Our innovation agenda is going to help create the modern dynamic 21st century economy Australia needs.
“Our fundamentals are strong, we’re in our 25th year of consecutive economic growth but we need new sources of growth if we’re to maintain our high standard of living, high wages and generous social welfare safety net.”
Mr Turnbull said the commercialisation of ideas through greater collaboration across the different sectors was a major goal of his government’s innovation package.
“Our universities, our research organisations like the CSIRO, and our workforce are world class, but Australia is falling behind when it comes to commercialising good ideas and collaborating with industry,” he said.
“Australia consistently ranks last of second last among OECD countries for business research collaboration.
“Increasing collaboration between businesses, universities, and the research sector is absolutely critical for our businesses to remain competitive.
“We are going to drive business research collaboration ensuring that there is greater collaboration between organisations like the CSIRO, universities, other research institutions and businesses to commercialise ideas and solve problems.
“To commercialise an idea, a great invention, a great innovation, a great piece of research and then grow it into new sources of revenue, new jobs, new opportunities, new industries.
“More jobs, more growth, that is the focus of my government.”
Mr Turnbull said the innovation package and vision for the future would also focus on developing students for the workforce of the future.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring our students have the skills to find high wage and rewarding jobs regardless of their qualifications or career path,” he said.
“We’re going to do this by promoting coding and computing in schools to ensure our students have the problem solving and critical reasoning skills for the jobs of the future,
“We cannot future proof ourselves from change, nor should we seek to do so, but we can ensure our students are graduating with the skills and the agility to identify opportunities and embrace risks.”
Mr Turnbull said the innovation package would help to create a new ideas boom which would utitlise our country’s greatest natural asset, the minds and creativity of 24 million Australians.
“We want to be a national culture of innovation, of risk taking because if we do that we grow the whole ecosystem of innovation, we become a culture of ideas because it is the ideas boom that will secure our prosperity in the future,” he said.
“It is believing in our human capital and remembering that the best assets that we have in Australia are not to be found in the ground, but walking around on top of it, the 24 million Australian men and women, these and their ideas are what secures our future, and this package will incentivize, dynamize and energize that enormous opportunity.”
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox welcomed the announcement of the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.
“The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) announced today sets out decisive and positive steps towards creating the economy and jobs of the future,” he said.
“In framing the NISA, the Government has picked up and acted on the key areas of the need to develop an innovative culture; early stage financing, business- research collaboration, skills and leveraging public sector procurement and information to encourage and facilitate private sector innovation.”
The bulk of the 24 measures in the Government’s innovation plan will start form July 2016.