Ferris: Collaboration performance not good enough

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Innovation and Science Australia chair Bill Ferris AC has urged Australian entrepreneurs and researchers to embrace collaboration with confidence.

Addressing a Criterion conference on Driving Research Impact Mr Ferris said that Australians needed “an enthusiasm for the possible”.

“Australians have proved themselves to be exceptionally good competitors,” said Mr Ferris. “We compare ourselves with the biggest and the best, not with ‘nations of comparable size and population’.  We take a bold approach and it’s worked for us, again and again.

“Finishing outside the top ten in the Olympic medal tally would be regarded as outrageous in Australia,” he said.

“But where do we sit in regard to collaboration between industry and academia? Thirtieth out of 30 OECD countries in terms of collaboration between large businesses and higher education and public research institutions.”

Successive governments have identified Australia's poor record on public-private collaboration as a strategic barrier to further growth in the innovation economy, notably in relation to health and medical research.

Mr Ferris said that change had to occur and was occurring under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

“What will a successful response look like in future years?  Universities will be the hotbed of entrepreneurship, where spin-offs of new technology businesses number in the hundreds annually.

“Businesses, big and small, will be collaborating with the smart research campuses in their sectors, competing to co-invest in the development of new products and services.

“We will at last have an entrepreneurial ecosystem that gets Australia into the top ten innovation nations of the world.”