Australian Innovation

John Brumby - Innovation Festival Foreword

Victorians are fervent in their pursuit of knowledge and progress.  In this spirit, the Victorian Government has worked to create a system where our world-leading research and technology capabilities are translated into real health, sustainability and productivity outcomes. The Australian Innovation Festival plays an important role in supporting the collaborative community and entrepreneurship that brings innovative ideas to market.    

The Victorian Government’s commitment to fostering innovation is demonstrated through our $3.4 billion investment in major innovation-related initiatives since 1999.  This includes unprecedented investments in science, technology and innovation infrastructure. By supporting a highly competitive business environment, we are ensuring that Victoria remains an attractive location for investors and our world-class research breakthroughs can continue to be commercialised.

An independent impact assessment undertaken in 2009 found that Victorian Government investment of more than $620 million in our Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Initiative between 1999 and 2008 has created more than 7,600 full-time jobs, delivered around 1,750 new export contracts and resulted in a $1.7 billion benefit to the Victorian economy.

Victoria is an innovative hub for world-class science. Victoria’s life sciences industry is further cementing Victoria’s status as one of the top five biotechnology hubs in the world.   Victoria is now home to 136 biotechnology companies, 13 major medical research institutes, 10 teaching hospitals and 9 universities.  Furthermore, Melbourne boasts 73 per cent of Australia’s top 20 listed life science companies, including one of the world’s top 10 life science companies, CSL.

The success of our approach is also reflected in the resilience of Victoria’s biotechnology sector during the recent global economic downturn. Despite this challenging environment, Victoria’s biotechnology sector has kept growing in size, capability and profitability. At the end of 2009, the market capitalisation of our listed biotechnology companies reached $23.6 billion, up around 300 per cent on 2002. Victoria now also has 13 profitable listed companies – up from just five in 2004 – and our life sciences sector now employs more than 22,000 people.

These achievements have occurred at a breathtaking pace, and we continue to expand our horizons.  As this year’s Festival theme suggests, we need to work to ensure innovative businesses are equipped for sustainable growth, and our economies built for continued prosperity. 

The Victorian Government appreciates that new ideas grow from collaboration.  We have successfully partnered with our companies and researchers to pursue international alliances to generate new opportunities. In 2008, we announced the California-Victoria Stem Cell Alliance, a partnership with the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the world’s largest stem cell organisation.  Last year, Massachusetts and Victoria agreed to build upon the robust economic, scientific and academic relationship that exists between our States, in particular in the four key industry sectors of clean and renewable energy, financial services, information and communication technology, and life sciences. 

The Victorian Government values the role that the Australian Innovation Festival plays in creating a collaborative community and a forum for the broader promotion of innovation across the nation. I wish organisers and participants all the best for the 2010 event.

Premier of Victoria

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