Ferris: Australia falling behind

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Australia is falling behind other countries when it comes to innovation, according to Bill Ferris AC, chair of Innovation and Science Australia.

Mr Ferris, speaking at The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit, said government's will need to make tough choices if Australia is going to be able to compete globally. 

In his address to the Summit, Mr Ferris will point to the lack of innovative thinking and agility across many Australian industries and the country's declining education results.

"The alarming decline in our student PISA [Program for International Student Assessment] performance in STEM subjects is more than a canary chirp in the mineshaft of the Australian economy," according to Mr Ferris.

"It is a clarion shriek for national action.

"This does not mean turning out more kids with programming and coding skills; but by 2030 it does mean more teenagers with curiosity, problem solving, and computational capabilities relevant to their digital economy and society."

Innovation and Science Australia will shortly present the Turnbull government with a plan for implementing its 'innovation agenda'.

Mr Ferris believes government should support overarching and high profile national missions focussed on innovation as a way to shift the country's culture.

"Big projects that will inspire Australians of all ages about the possibilities of what can be achieved when we back our scientists and researchers and entrepreneurs working in collaboration," he said, suggesting government should direct more financial support to innovation, even in a tight fiscal environment.