James Riley
January 21, 2019

Andrew Stevens is the new Bill Ferris

Research

Andrew Stevens is the new Bill Ferris

Andrew Stevens: Stepping into the big shoes left at ISA by venture capital legend Bill Ferris

Innovation and Science Australia has a new chairman after former IBM Australia managing director Andrew Stevens was quietly appointed to the role just before Christmas.

Mr Stevens, who is also chairman of Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre and a non-executive director at MYOB, Thorn Group and Stockland, takes the reins from the ISA’s inaugural chair Bill Ferris who had headed the organisation since it was established three years ago.

The appointment was unveiled in stealth mode, with Industry minister Karen Andrews posting a statement online on the Friday before Christmas, a media dead zone. The Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel retains his board position as deputy chair.

The Innovation and Science Australia board was the centrepiece of an advisory structure that helped shape former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, and Bill Ferris has been the private sector face of that policy direction through a revolving door of five different Industry ministers. It is not clear why the Stevens appointment had been kept so low-key.

Ms Andrews also announced several other new board appointments, including Professor Elanor Huntington, the first female Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University, and Bond University’s Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Raoul Mortley.

ANZ Bank’s digital banking chief Maile Carnegie and Square Peg Capital co-founder Paul Bassat has both been reappointed to the ISA board.

Further board changes are expected to be announced as early as this week as part of a program of renewal.

But it is the appointment of Mr Stevens that is most interesting, given the experience he brings to the role, firstly through a long corporate career, but more recently in driving outcomes for advanced manufacturing in Australia, as well as his role in working with Data61 as head of the advisory committee that is developing the data standards that will underpin the Consumer Data Right.

Innovation and Science Australia chief executive officer Dr Charlie Day says it is three years since the formation of ISA and that it makes to conduct a process of renewal.

“Bill Ferris has left some big shoes to fill. He has done a tremendous job in setting up [ISA],” Dr Day told InnovationAus.com.

“But Andrew also has broad experience in dealing with government through things like the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre and on the Open Banking initiatives, and he obviously has a long and successful corporate career, so he is going to be a great chair and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

“All of our board members have been good contributors, but it’s natural that all boards need to have a process of renewal, and its three years since ISA was announced as part of the NISA package so its timely I guess that we go through that renewal process now,” Dr Day said.

It is coming up to a year since the Innovation and Science Australia 2030 strategy was made public, and with it the unveiling of the Genomics Health Future Mission – the $500 million challenge-based goal of making Australia the healthiest country on earth, and thereby creating new knowledge and new commercial technology along the way.

That challenge was handed off to the Health department, which appointed an expert advisory committee headed by University of Queensland’s Prof Ian Frazier to shape the research response to the first large scale mission-based challenge Australia has set itself.

This committee, which includes Data61 CEO Adrian Turner and Garvan Institute executive director Professor Christopher Goodnow, is expected to publish a more detailed roadmap in the coming weeks.

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