Technology | Innovation

Innovation in business not just for tech start-ups

Australia needs to take innovation seriously, due to the research-proven link between innovation and performance measures, like productivity, Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Secretary, Glenys Beauchamp PSM has told a CEDA audience in Melbourne.

At the event, titled The innovation agenda: can industry seize the opportunity? Ms Beauchamp said that firms that embrace innovation are twice as likely to increase productivity in employment, four times more likely to increase their export markets and around three times more likely to increase investment in training and information technologies.

She said that these types of firms make up approximately 47 per cent of Australian businesses, which is up from 37 per cent in 2012-13.

Additionally, she said, these businesses contribute disproportionately to economic outcomes. While in 2012-13 only 47 per cent of businesses fit into the category of technological innovators, they contributed 60 per cent of both employment and sales across the whole economy.

“Innovation isn’t just about tech start-ups, it is about established businesses, big and small, doing things better to stay competitive in a changing environment,” she said.

Elaborating on the initiatives the government is pursuing to ensure businesses are embracing innovation, Ms Beauchamp spoke on the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which was launched in December 2015.

The agenda is built on the four pillars of culture and capital, collaboration, talent and skills, incudes 24 measures and has been allocated a billion dollars towards achieving the agenda’s outcomes, she said.

She described the department’s previous approach to innovation as “programmatic confetti” in which it provided many small grants to businesses, whereas the current priority is to now look at the growth and prosperity of the future.

She said that despite global shocks like the GFC, Australia is entering into its 26th continuous year of economic growth. However, she said, “Australia’s economic outlook suggests that there are increasing challenges, and while we don’t have a burning platform, we have seen our productivity performance lagging.

“Continuing growth of our GDP relies on productivity growth. Income growth in Aussie has remained relatively flat since 2011. And should this continue, we’re likely to see a decline in our living standard.”

She said research surrounding this trend suggests the next generation will be less well off than their parents unless trends change.

Ms Beauchamp said that the innovation agenda isn’t just about businesses innovating, but research, academia, government and businesses working together to deliver for the economy and Australians.