Unmuddling innovation metrics

Without Malcolm Turnbull the government has gone quite on innovation as an economy-expander, “Australia funds scientific research and development (thereby driving innovation supply), but there is a lack of domestic demand … for innovative products and processes once developed,” participants suggest in consultations for a new review of innovation indicators.

But wonks still keep the policy faith. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel and Chief Economist Mark Cully are chairing the review and have released a consultation paper.

Issues to address that involve universities and research agencies include:

* industry use of university infrastructure does not show-up in collaboration data

* measuring industry-university collaboration by total spends can obscure the number of projects, not showing if there is one big project or multiple smaller ones

* “better quality and more transparent” R&D data would allow universities to better-target research to business trends

* consistent use of terms in the National Survey of Research Commercialisation

This can’t hurt, arguments over growth in productivity-improving applications often depend on whether a lobby wants government support for new industries or protection for existing ones. So Finkel and Cully want measures to replace those, which “seem to get things both wrong and muddled” and a google of experts is convened to direct, advise and technically advise a review.



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