The innovation puzzle: unis won’t solve it on their own

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is broadly supportive of the government’s research commercialisation plan but it has specific suggestions

It’s not all about unis: The academy warns universities cannot do it by themselves, arguing “they are only one piece of Australia’s innovation puzzle, and they are not always well-equipped to judge the relative likelihood of commercial success for a particular piece of research.”

Nor start-ups: And it warns translating research into products will take more than start-ups, given less venture capital and risk appetite in Australia, than in comparable countries, such as Sweden and Israel. “Research commercialisation is an international endeavour and international collaborators, particularly large companies, play a key role in the commercialisation of Australia’s research.”

“To be successful the scheme must include industry, and it must provide incentives for industry to invest in, and benefit from, Australian research.”  The academy suggests using, (and don’t tell CMM you did not see this coming), the Research and Development Tax Incentive.

So, who picks, which winners?: While most of the policy discussion around the government’s proposal focuses on funding, the academy raises a key question, how to pick the research missions to be favoured with funding.

It suggests Industry, Innovation and Science Australia “may be the most appropriate entity,” – which could add a new dimension to what projects are funded. Amanda-Jane George (CQU) points out an ISSA report in 2020 suggested there is more to “innovation” than R&D, including industry adopting new operating methods, (CMM March 17).

And where to do the work: ATSE also suggests a selection and management role for the Industry Growth Centres and using an “enhanced Cooperative Research Centres programme.” “A CRC has clearly focused outcomes and involves research with the best talent and usually at the right scale.”