A call for papers: Structural reforms for Australian industry

James Riley
Editorial Director

As one of our major projects for 2024, InnovationAus.com will publish The Industry Papers, an 80-page, tabloid-sized newspaper filled with policy proposals and ideas for revitalising Australian industry in decline.

Today we are putting out our Call for Papers for inclusion in the publication. This is a chance to have your say in what policy-makers must focus on to revitalise our industrial base.

You can submit an outline for your proposed contribution here. We are using the Oxford Abstract platform for managing submissions. You must create an account to get to the application page: Don’t panic, it’s easy – and email address and a password and you’re in.

Proposal outlines must be in March 15. The Industry Papers will publish in September, so you will have plenty of time to write the actual paper.

The Industry Papers project follows a similar format to the successful Capability Papers project last year, and 2022’s Innovation Papers.

Once our authors have been selected, we will conduct a series of four conference forums across four cities, each exploring key themes identified in the papers. The final event is the launch of The Industry Papers hardcopy publication in Canberra at which authors are given the opportunity to present their ideas.

We are seeking proposals from domain experts from across the full spectrum of the Australian innovation ecosystem, from SMEs to corporates, from university academics to researchers to corporate leaders.

There are important questions be asked right now about Australia’s industrial capacity and whether the domestic capability exists to scale-up production in key industries and for key products if we were to experience supply chain shocks.

After a series of discussions with members of The Industry Papers Advisory Board, we are focusing our efforts this year on structural issues that have impeded the development and revitalisation of local industry.

The case for reforming the system is undeniable. When faced with a long-term decline in manufacturing, a shocking slide on the Harvard economic complexity ranking, and dramatically falling investment in R&D, it is clear that the trend lines are going in the wrong direction.

The ‘system’ is not performing. That evidence is clear. So just doing the same things that we have always done is not an option.

The feedback from The Industry Papers’ advisory group in the last several weeks points to the need for system level thinking in relation to industry policy – the kind of whole-of-government approach that is incredibly hard to do, but which can move mountains.

One piece of feedback was telling. That there is an element of intellectual dishonesty about our own assessments of Australia’s standing in the world when it comes to our capability.

At its most mundane, this manifests itself through ‘we punch above our weight’ syndrome and includes an inward-looking and cringey capacity for cheerleading.

This call for papers seeks ideas and answers for building a connected and integrated innovation ecosystem.

Like The Capability Papers, we expect policy papers outlining areas of expertise or particular opportunity, and changes that would remove blockages to progress or underwrite growth.

In The Industry Papers, we are expecting a lot of interest in regional Australia, at the technological nexus between AgriTech, resources and the METS sector, and in climate tech and renewables. This is fertile ground for Australian entrepreneurs and innovators.

If we are currently lacking a national vision on where Australia needs to be, and where its needs to build capability and capacity, then we need to ask some fundamental questions:

  • What are the industries and technologies of the future?
  • Where are our areas of current and potential competitive advantage?
  • Which global markets/value chains are most valuable?
  • How do all of the above intersect and can we position ourselves accordingly?

These are important questions about Australian capability and building expertise.

We expect to see papers looking at rethinking the way research funding is allocated in Australia, how the system of grants are targeted, and the way in which different programs leverage each other. On how state and federal programs can be better targeted.

The Industry Papers Advisory Board

What are we good at? Where should we be investing our attention and our dollars for maximum benefit? And how can we best engage with our international partners such that we are able to build a strong industrial base in this country that plugs into a global network?

This call for papers is for all industries. No idea is too big or too small. The call for paper outlines is open until March 15. Don’t panic – you don’t need to write the paper by then, we just want a proposed outline.

The Industry Papers will be published in September – and depending on the topic of your paper, there may be an opportunity to speak at one of the four forums we host in the lead-up to the publication.

If you are interested sponsorship details or potential speaker opportunities, you can register that interest by clicking here.

In the past couple of years we have had some incredible papers submitted by some outstanding Australians. You can find the full online versions of The Capability Papers articles by clicking here.

If you would like to receive a hard copy version of last year’s Capability Papers, you can order one online here.

If you intend to submit a paper proposal but are unsure of how to write in the style of our newspaper – do not fear. You can find our style guide for authors here. This will give you an indication of word counts and biography formats, illustrations and pictures, and all those things that will put your mind at ease.

Australia ranked 93rd out of 133 countries in the Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity, dropping 12 places in the past decade. How’s that for punching above our weight?

According to the OECD, Australia spent 1.68 per cent of GDP on research and development in the most recent survey. We are at the bottom of the table here, with R&D investment at it lowest level as a proportion of GDP since they started counting these numbers.

This is at a time when comparable economies are lifting their investments in R&D, given the incredible acceleration in technology development.

These issues are real and pressing and worth investing time in.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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