Aimee Chanthadavong
August 30, 2018

Qld innovation policy reviewed

Policy

Qld innovation policy reviewed

Kate Jones: A review of the innovation ecosystem will prepare for challenges

The Queensland government will review the state’s current innovation policy in a move to ensure any future programs are prepared for future economic, social, and community challenges caused by digital disruption.

Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the ‘Our Innovation Future’ review will whether the state’s $650 million Advance Queensland fund aligns with potential future challenges.

“We have more startups than ever before thanks to our Advance Queensland strategy. We want to invest in businesses and smart Queenslanders to create new jobs and diversify our economy,” Ms Jones told InnovationAus.com.

“This review is about ensuring that our programs continue to create jobs and we stay at the cutting edge.

“We’re putting in the hard work now so Queensland can capitalise on the disruption happening in our economy. We want to make sure Queenslanders are not left behind but are leading the pack.

As a first step, the state hosted a roundtable on Thursday that gathered leaders from Queensland’s innovation network to discuss points that would be used to develop a public issues paper to engage participants throughout the innovation system.

The state government also plans to release a report next week that outlines the risks and opportunities for Queensland over the coming decades and the potential impact of those challenges. It will cover potential changes in employment, technologies, global export opportunities and new markets.

RedEye Apps chief executive and co-founder Wayne Gerard said review of the state’s innovation system signals a commitment to develop appropriate policies.

“It demonstrates the Premier’s as well as Kate Jones’ commitment to innovation. They both see it as cornerstone of their new economic policy and there general desire to create an innovation-based industry and transitional economy where we’ve got to create jobs of the future now,” he told InnovationAus.com.

“Obviously we want to build a startup sector that can help solve economy challenges, so if we can help build startups that help our existing industry like tourism, agriculture, mining and energy be more sustainable globally that it’s going to be beneficial for the state.”

The review of innovation policy is also expected to help uncover goals that will support scale-ups of startups.

“Those businesses that are growing globally, the question is: ‘How do we help them?’ I’ve recommended to the Premier and the innovation minister that we need to do more startup specific trade missions,” said Mr Gerard.

“I’m not saying pick winners but take startups that export already and help them with introductions using the influences that a politician can have. This way you access customers overseas to generate export revenue. This will give our startups founders and employee experience in international markets.”

Mr Gerard is also optimistic that the review will look into ways that Queensland can create higher paying jobs for the future, create an inclusive talent pool, and deliver incentives that would encourage founders after they have exited from their startups to reinvest back into the ecosystem as a mentor or through financial means.

Fishburners chief executive Pandora Shelley said the review was an indication that innovation is on the political priority list.

“Queensland has a strong track record of investing in and supporting entrepreneurs. The funding commitments, initiatives and overall culture of support for startups and SMEs has helped Queensland to significantly grow its community of entrepreneurs but things never stand still,” Ms Shelley told InnovationAus.com.

“There is increased competition for our startups and startup talent. It’s important to continue to grow the ecosystem so we can respond to growth opportunities and new challenges. We are committed to helping grow the entrepreneurial community in Queensland and helping local startups to scale.

“We are pleased to see this review and will provide the government with our full support in responding.”

The review by the Queensland government comes just the CSIRO’s Data 61 released a report that details the risks and opportunities for Queensland over the next two decades.

The Innovation Imperative report suggested there is a critical need to innovate, as there will be up to one million new jobs created in the next two decades as a result of technology shifts.

Alongside a jobs boom, the report warned that parts of the economy will be displaced placing 868,000 jobs at risk and only parts – roughly 1.5 million jobs – will remain relatively stable.

The report also makes six recommendations on how the government can prepare for these impacts:

  • Deploy future-focused education and training options to foster innovators
  • Focused effort on assisting regions to leverage existing and develop new markets
  • Invest in transformational technologies that will improve connectivity issues, R&D into emerging technologies as well as digital adoption to drive growth
  • Collaboration between industry, the research sector, government and communities to deliver results
  • Global customers to expand markets, particularly in the Asia Pacific Region
  • Support frontier firms to create new opportunities

The Innovation Imperative is the first report from the Q-Foresight program, a joint research initiative between the Queensland Government and Data61 to inform long-term strategy and planning.

Ms Jones said the Queensland government wants to be prepared to support the one million jobs that will be created in the state by 2038.

“Innovation isn’t just about creating new jobs. We’re working hard to provide funding and support to upskill workers in jobs that are likely to be impacted,” Ms Jones said.

“That’s another reason why I recently announced a review of the state’s innovation system to identify ways the government can work with entrepreneurs and researchers to foster innovation to achieve growth and secure jobs.

“As part of this review, we’re looking at ways we can better partner with employers to upskill workers and create more sustainable jobs in Queensland.”

Coinciding with this report, the Brisbane City Council has released its own survey, The Brisbane Digital Confidence Index, to understand the level of business and technology confidence of local SMEs.

The benchmark report revealed 73 per cent of local small businesses have above average business and technology confidence.

Brisbane Chief Digital Officer Cat Matson said unlike previous research that looked at business literacy and maturity, this research has researched business confidence in technology.

The survey also highlighted that SMEs feel less confident when they are overwhelmed with information.

According to Ms Matson, the council will use the insights from the survey as guide to develop future initiatives.

“Whether that’s influences that we cover in our PowerUp programs, which are monthly workshops held all over Brisbane to deal with different elements of digital in business,” she said.

“Or whether we look at curating a string of information, so small business owners don’t have to wade through all of their Twitter, Facebook, news notification, and we’re looking at how we can better serve in that based on the confidence model we now have.”

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