Unleashing the power of joined-up innovation in Australia

15 April 2014, Sydney, AUSTRALIA: Australia must urgently review the way its innovation ecosystem works if it is to stay competitive in the fast-changing international economy, according to a new discussion paper released today by Microsoft.

The paper introduces Microsoft’s vision for ‘Joined-Up Innovation’, a new approach for improving connections within our innovation ecosystem locally and globally, and has been created in conjunction with a number of the nation’s leading innovators and innovation experts.

“Australia has amazing strengths,” said Pip Marlow, Microsoft Australia Managing Director. “These range from our wealth of natural resources to our location in the fast-growing Asian region, our economic and political stability, cultural diversity and smart population.

“But if we want to maintain – and preferably improve – our competitive position, we need to reinvent our innovation ecosystem for the information age rather than sticking with models developed in the industrial age.”

The Joined-Up Innovation vision comes from a conviction that innovation and productivity are co-dependent. It features a particular focus on the potential for gains in the small and medium-enterprise (SME) sector.

“SMEs are often overlooked as a source of innovation in this country,” Ms Marlow said. “However, they develop more than one third of Australia’s gross domestic product and account for more than half of private sector employment. Previous research has shown these businesses are less risk-averse than large companies, giving them a greater willingness and cultural capacity to innovate.”

New findings from PwC suggest transforming Australia’s SME laggards to leaders in their use of technology specifically, could increase GDP by nearly $6 billion (or 0.4 per cent) in 2012-2013, increase real wages by 0.5 per cent and raise revenue in the economy by $11 billion.

The PwC analysis stresses technology adoption must also be accompanied by business process change in order for Australia to boost innovation and multifactor productivity. The Joined-Up Innovation discussion paper adopted a similarly broad view of what measures are needed to make our complex innovation ecosystem work better, including:

  • improving relationships between individuals and organisations across the innovation value chain
  • reinventing the way we work and operate by moving from slow, linear innovation processes to more collaborative models
  • transforming our culture, which has become too risk averse
  • improving knowledge and information sharing in the innovation ecosystem
  • cultivating a wide range of skills
  • making it easier for talented individuals to move around within our innovation ecosystem

The paper is titled Joined-Up Innovation: Making the right connections across Australia’s innovation ecosystem to support our future growth and international competitiveness. It was framed by a roundtable discussion between a group of innovation experts brought together by Microsoft in early 2014 as well as further interviews.

“I’ve long believed that not only the world’s future, but Australia’s future, lies in developing knowledge-based industries and services,” says roundtable participant Professor Roy Green, Dean of UTS Business School.

Other roundtable participants and interviewees included:

  • Dr Genevieve Bell, Director of Interaction and Experience Research, Intel
  • Suzanne Campbell, CEO, Australian Information Industry Association
  • Dr Kate Cornick, Director, Industry Engagement and Innovation, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Alan Finkel, President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
  • Peter Freedman, CEO, RØDE Microphones
  • Hamish Hawthorn, CEO, ATP Innovations
  • Murray Hunter, Founder & CEO, Design + Industry
  • Pip Marlow, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia
  • Adam McArthur, CEO & Co-founder, ParcelPoint
  • Dr Bill Petreski, Director, Hydrix
  • Sandy Plunkett, Innovation and Investment Consultant (facilitator)
  • Graeme Strange, Managing Director, Readify
  • Dr Frank Vetere, Associate Professor, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Hon Weng Chong, Founder, StethoCloud

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