There is absolutely no doubt that the global economy is more competitive than ever, and for Australia to remain productive and prosperous it is vital for business to continue to change and evolve.
But when we talk about “innovation”, what exactly do we mean?
Put simply, it’s about challenging the norm and doing things differently. It’s not only coming up with new products and services, but improving on what we already do and make.
Innovation isn’t something that only applies to start-ups or tech companies. It applies right across the economy, to both established and new businesses. Innovation matters as much to the worker in the steel plant as to the coder in the start-up. Businesses that innovate generally perform better than those that don’t. They make more income from sales, generate more profit and they employ more people.
We live in a rapidly changing world, where new technologies are transforming the way we work, interact and do business, and the good news is that as a nation, this is an area where we have a strong track record. Our inventiveness, our entrepreneurial spirit and our inquiring minds and scientific capability stand us in good stead, but we must always strive to do more.
Australia recently marked 25 years of continuous economic growth. It’s a great achievement but we cannot be complacent if we want to continue strong growth into the future.
We need to be adaptive and open to new technologies that can help improve productivity and increase economic growth. Being innovative is good for the economy. It’s good for business. And it’s good for jobs.
As a government, we have a role and responsibility to be encouraging all businesses – big and small, new and old – to be thinking outside the box and always asking the question: is there a better way to do this?
And we will continue to play our part by getting the settings right to encourage existing firms to grow and new firms to start, thereby creating new opportunities and driving jobs and prosperity.
We started this journey back in December 2015 when the Prime Minister launched the first wave of the $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda. The agenda includes a suite of initiatives designed to help all Australians – our businesses, our students and our researchers – create and seize the opportunities made possible by technological and scientific advances. We’ve already made good progress.
Our investment in R&D will increase 3.55 per cent on the Budget Estimate of $9.7 billion in 2015–16 and over the last 10 years the Australian Government support for R&D has increased by 52 per cent – from more than $6.6 billion to $10.1 billion.
Right now we’re consulting with the community on how we can maximise benefits from the generous R&D tax incentives. In addition to financial support, we’re providing the infrastructure we need for science and research. In August, we finalised the handover of the Synchrotron to the Australian Government.
Located in Melbourne, the Synchrotron is one of the most important pieces of research infrastructure in the country and we’ve allocated $520 million so scientists have the resources they need to make the next big breakthrough.
Already the Synchrotron has been used to help advance research and development in fields such as bioscience, food security, medical research and minerals exploration. We’ve also announced a $70 million agreement to work on building the world’s first quantum computer – right here in Australia. Achieving this significant technological breakthrough would allow us to process in minutes or hours, problems that would take conventional computers – even supercomputers – centuries.
We also recently launched the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund.
We’re renowned for ground-breaking discoveries in health and medical research, but too often opportunities to commercialise them have been lost to international investors. Our investment will fuel Australian biomedical innovation, generate revenue for Australia and create high-value Australian jobs. The Biomedical Translation Fund will make investments in promising discoveries, injecting the necessary funds to progress commercialisation.
By investing in the early stages of commercialisation, we are opening the research pipeline from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. Researchers, clinicians, industry, governments and, especially, patients will benefit.
We have also amended the tax system to encourage investors to direct their funds towards high-growth, innovative start-ups and we have taken steps to boost women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
These are just a few of the measures we’ve put in place to build investment and secure our future economic prosperity. And at the end of the day, that’s good for the economy and it’s good for jobs.