Spaces of Australian Innovation

| September 15, 2016

What is the latest in Australia’s innovation sector? Stephen Hayes has an overview of what’s happening in a number of areas.

Australia remains to be among the top 25 countries (Rank: 19 with 53.1 points) as per the Global Innovation Index report of 2016. The comparative drop from last year’s Global rank of 17th could perhaps be due to the country’s current innovation system’s transitional state as per Chief Australian Scientist Alan Finkel and ACIL Allen Consulting’s John Bell’s writings of the index.

Australia now ranks 19th on the Global Innovation Index

Australia is learning from other countries about policies as well as science projects being carried out. Despite its small population, Australia leverages the globalisation of big science; finding a place on the international stage in cooperative ventures with other countries and opening itself to interaction with scientists globally.

The Prime Minister’s initiative to drive an “ideas boom”

Australia is looking for ways to create employment pathways for research graduates, an important area. Take for example innovation’s connection with providing financial support to publicly place funded researchers in a business or a publicly funded research organisation to work on a specific project. Last year, The Australian federal government unveiled its National Innovation and Science Agenda as an attempt to fuel an “ideas boom”. Earlier this year the Innovation and Science Australia Statutory board was announced, tasked with placing innovation and science at the core of government policy making. Private equity veteran Bill Ferris was appointed as the chair of the board, while Alan Finkel was handed the role of deputy chair.

Spaces of Innovation

This year’s Growth Summit themed “A Vision for Australia 2016” is addressing crucial questions related to innovation in the following spaces:

a) Collaborative Workspaces:

The Laboratory for Innovation by CEO and Founder of Third Spaces Group is an inspiring approach towards fostering creativity internally in a workspace. It is crucial to generate interest and build a community of people to implement a “co-working” space.

The ideal work environment as per current trends demands an increase in collaborative capacity of people, breaking enterprise silos within organisations to speed up key decisions of their business strategy. Implementing such an environment would require conceiving, creating and activating of workspaces resulting in improved productivity, accelerated innovation and stimulated communities.

b) Learning and Research Spaces:

The recent partnership of Macquarie University with six other Macquarie Park-Based businesses – Optus, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Konica Minolta, NAB and AMP Capital – was to launch the Macquarie Park Innovation District (MPID). The University was also provided with a $1 million grant from the NSW Government, enabling the development of the MU Business Innovation Centre. The centre would primarily focus to stimulate, drive and nurture innovation through process improvement and product development.

Learning and research can be carried out in Innovation Led Training and Learning Centres that are equipped with industrial experience, insights, design thinking and systems thinking.

c) ‘Head Space’ – Anything is possible, give it a go!

Conventions that bring together like minded people seem to contribute towards building a global community that fosters and collaborates innovation. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) announced the winners of the 2016 iAwards early September. Australia’s leading awards program recognises and rewards Australian Innovation. This year, they received more than 600 entries from government, startups, corporates and students. The Innovation of the Year award went to Optika Solutions Pty Ltd – Akumen.

d) Outer Space: 

A perfect example would be Delta-V’s commercial arm that aims at harnessing the 1000x lower cost and size of smaller satellites to make access to space easier. A program of space missions that they claim validate “Space as a service” are underway. Government policies need to level with the advancements, ensuring that startups, stakeholders and enterprises have the legislative support needed to operate in outer space.

The Future of Innovation

Innovations make our lives easier. Sometimes the groundwork needed to support these innovations financially as well as otherwise are overlooked. Initiatives such as the National Innovation and Science Agenda by Malcolm Turnbull need to be leveraged to maximise and foster an innovative culture across Australia to complete its transition in the innovation workspace.