Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Generation Breakthrough

By Simon Grose

The latest take on innovation policy actually offers something new.

Simon Grose is a Director of Science Media (sciencemedia.com.au).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

There’s an old saying along the lines: “If you don’t innovate you die”. So it is appropriate that innovation policy gets a regular shake-up to keep it alive.

Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has given it his big shot with a list of five “top breakthrough actions”. Sounds exciting.

The main proposal would be to establish a “business-led” Australian Innovation Council. to replace the Innovation Australia Board, which already has a preponderance of private sector members. It was set up in 2007 by merging the former Industry Research and Development Board and the Venture Capital Registration Board.

“Breakthrough”? Maybe an evolutionary step, or just a letterhead-changing exercise. Its remit is couched in the usual aspirational innovation jargon, with a bit of a tweak towards picking winners (e.g. “identify areas of market demand for innovation”).

The sole major change would be structural: “consolidate existing programs – Enterprise Connect, Commercialisation Australia, Cooperative Research Centres, AusIndustry programs, and others… and administer them using the existing infrastructure and expertise”.

That would make it a big unit, an applied research funder to rival the basic research funders in the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Another idea is a pilot program of Innovation Vouchers. This...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.