Tue, 20/11/2007 - proberts
Australia's innovative capacity can be turned to the problems of climate change.
The really surprising thing about the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is its optimism. After years of focusing on the negatives such as the terrible drought obvious to all Australians, the focus has moved to what can be done.
And, it turns out, a lot can be done to delay or avoid the impacts of climate change.
Australia’s participation in new market signals to encourage the development of a less carbon intensive economy through a successor to Kyoto is vital. It is vital from the purely selfish point of view that we will be excluded from world trade if we fail to take action and to reduce the effects of change on agriculture.
Tue, 06/11/2007 - proberts
Australians are innovative - you hear people say that all the time. But the reality is far less palatable.
I am often told ‘Australians are innovative’ but in reality we are not, or rather not particularly.
We are innovative in the sense that people are innovative, and Australians are people. So it follows that Australians are innovative.
But how could we be particularly innovative - we are not even that well educated. A third of Australians aged 25 to 34 are tertiary educated compared to 53 per cent of Canadians, for example.
Science isn’t the problem as we perform well in academic research. The problem is turning ideas into profitable businesses. Patents are one of the most important indicators of that process and with two per cent of the global economy, we account for only 0.82 per cent of global patents.
We don’t need to be particularly innovative as most of our industries are classified as ‘medium-technology’ and almost none are ‘high technology’. And the situation is not getting relatively better - our high technology exports are growing at 4.4 per cent a year compared to the OECD average of 7.2 per cent.
Thu, 01/11/2007 - proberts
The superannuation industry is maturing and taking its place in the national innovation system.
Long, long ago, in the distant past before Australia had a venture capital sector, there were at least three big things to be done. Financiers had to become experienced in handling risk in new ways, investors had to be comfortable investing in new ventures, and above all the country needed a track record of successful investments to show it could be done.
It all seemed just too difficult.
One of the things often talked about was the need for the then nascent superannuation sector to earmark a few per cent of their funds for earlier stage venture capital and other new investment classes. The logic went that if the money was there the opportunities would come to the fore.
Tue, 23/10/2007 - proberts
Look at the stockmarket to find out whether Australian companies value innovation.
Australia’s top 20 listed companies reflect something about what might be a maturing Australian attitude to innovation. Wheras mining companies once dominated the list, today fully nine of the S&P top 20 are financial institutions.
While four big banks are protected by government policy and are not exactly known for their nimbleness, others such as Macquarie Bank carved their position based on relationships and innovative products and practises.
Then there are three resources companies, all innovative in their own right, but not big spenders on R&D on a global scale. One could argue their local activities remain competitive against low-cost rivals precisely because of innovation.
And there are three retailers, of which Woolworths is known for its logistics innovation and two industrial companies including the sole manufacturer and consumer product innovator, Foster’s Group.
Fri, 19/10/2007 - proberts
In the innovation battle, Australia has lost at least a decade ...
The federal government has been quick to trumpet a recovery in business spending on R&D – so called Berd. That Berd has risen above one per cent of gross domestic product for the first time is a great achievement, and follows an increasing recognition by business of the importance of innovation and investing for future growth.
But positive business sentiment to innovation is only part of the story and perhaps not the most important part. There is evidence that business has been responding as much to a 175 per cent tax deduction being offered for certain types of business R&D.
Tue, 25/09/2007 - proberts
Australian furniture design, more Moonee Ponds than Milan, could benefit from a little innovation ...
Like most men I rarely find much to look at in shopping brochures. But glancing through a Harvey Norman catalogue on the weekend brought me face to face with something new. Australian furniture designers appear to be discovering the power of design.
Gerry Harvey does us all a great service by choosing to showcase Australian made furniture in his stores - he knows bulky fashion items like sofas can be made competitively here and there are no months-long supply chains to worry about.
But until recently while competently designed, the Aussie product was more derivative than innovative or inspiring. This is a product of history - furniture makers in the past would visit Italy for furniture shows and then intepret what they saw.