The Australian Government has put innovation high on the agenda, recognising that it is the key to accelerating economic recovery in the short term and driving prosperity in the long term.
Innovation is the catalyst for new industries, high-wage jobs, safer communities, and a better quality of life.
The total Australian Government budget for research and innovation in 2009-10 is around $8.6 billion â 25 per cent more than last year. This money will be used to fund a number of innovation measures, such as Clean Business Australia, Commercialisation Australia, and A New Car Plan for a Greener Future.
Innovation Australia, an independent statutory body, plays a key role in the innovation equation.
In Innovation Australiaâs latest annual report, the chair, Mr David Miles AM, comments that the continuing focus on innovation by all Australian industry is crucial to achieving sustainable prosperity for Australia into the future.
He notes that âinnovation is important for all firms across all industry sectors, large and small, high-tech and more traditional and is the key to generating growth, jobs, skills and increased productivity.
âAustralia, notwithstanding its population and place in the world economy, is an ideas nation but our ability to capture those ideas, develop them into concepts and achieve commercial outcomes needs greater encouragement.â
So what is Innovation Australia and what role does it play in supporting solutions for success in Australian innovation?
Innovation Australia was established under the Industry Research and Development Act 1986, which promotes the development of industry and aims to improve industry efficiency and international competitiveness by encouraging R&D, innovation and venture capital activities.
Innovation Australia is responsible for administering a range of Australian Government business innovation and venture capital programs. The boardâs mandate, encapsulated in its mission statement, is: âto increase the economic return to Australia from successful technology-based enterprises by guiding the Australian Governmentâs investment in the commercialisation of the nationâs research and development and innovation.â
The armâs-length advice provided by the board and its committees ensures a level of separation from government and provides objectivity, both of which are crucial given the level of technical and business acumen required when assessing applications of a commercial nature.
By applying the entrepreneurial skill, objectivity and experience of its members gained through many years of professional experience, the Innovation Australia board adds a particularly valuable dimension to the management of the Australian Governmentâs industry innovation programs.
Last year, the Australian Government embarked on a significant program of investment and reform to revitalise Australiaâs innovation system, which is outlined in Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century. Innovation Australia played an active role in supporting the governmentâs renewed priorities, including the implementation of a number of its new business innovation initiatives.
Along with AusIndustry, Innovation Australia helps to administer the government's innovation measures.
AusIndustry is the governmentâs principal business program delivery division in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. It delivers more than thirty-five business programs, worth about $2 billion a year, to more than 12,000 businesses and 85,000 individuals.
Innovation Australia administers these programs through a number of committees made up of people who are drawn from industry and academia and have commercial and technical qualifications and experience.