InnovationAus.com started publishing a year before the last federal election, and now we’re staring down the barrel of another. The last time around, innovation policy was seen as a strength. It was something to be pursued as an integral part of building an advanced economy. Remember the Ideas Boom?
Six industry ministers later and the sector is reeling. The R&D tax incentive scheme has been choked, it is more difficult than ever to find the right skills – and bringing in top overseas talent no longer an option for most companies.
And the Assistance and Access Bill is causing serious harm to the full spectrum of Australian digital innovators who are trying to compete on the world.
For the startup sector, the cherry on top must be that Startup Muster is in trouble, with the Industry department drastically reducing its funding support. So pretty soon we may not be able to properly measure an important part of the system.
2019 is going to be a tough year. But it’s not like anyone is giving up. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a researcher, a CEO in a tech-related field, or a public sector executive driving a new way of getting the job done, we just have to get on with it.
At InnovationAus.com we have also been thinking more deeply about what serves the innovation community, and the role we play sharing news and insights across the different parts of the Australian innovation system.
Our aim is to work at the intersection of government policy, research, investment and private endeavor. We try to focus on the horizontal public policy themes that cover the silos of the economy – from the basics of access to skills, capital and markets, to research and other government-driven innovation.
Over the summer, we surveyed readers on the areas they consider most important to achieving better innovation outcomes for Australia.
We wanted to take the pulse of our audience on their vision for a smarter road ahead.
Producing the survey was an interesting process. The top takeaway was wholly unsurprising: InnovationAus.com readers overwhelmingly want better long-term thinking from the Australian government when it comes to innovation policy, as well as smarter coordination across government, research institutions and business.
Overwhelming too is the demand for policy consistency.
The top ranked requirement was a ‘Stable, long-term government vision for Australian innovation’, followed by “coordination and insight across government, institutional research, investors, entrepreneurs, and the mainstream business community.”
These rankings were followed in third place by “tax and other financial settings to stimulate business investment,” and in fourth, “improving commercial outcomes of institutional research.”
In other results, readers were far from optimistic on achieving the goals set out in the National Innovation and Science Agenda. On a sliding 100-point scale, the average score on the optimism-meter was just 39.
In terms of how our readers view the value of the publication, you gave us a general vote of confidence, with 92 per cent of readers saying they would recommend InnovationAus.com to friends or colleagues.
But that’s not to say you didn’t make your feelings known on how we can do better, offering good suggestions and comments on what you’d like to see more of, and what you’d like us to focus on.
Some of you said that you want fewer negative stories – or ‘whingeing’ – and more work covering the people, culture and leadership that is out there in the innovation system. More examples and case studies of great people, or great local companies doing great things.
Some want a reduced focus on the electioneering and more effort to get real conversations from government. This falls in the more policy, less politics vibe – and will be tough over the next several months (come on, there is an election in NSW followed by the national poll. Tough!)
We’ve seen that our audience represents the full gamut of innovation sectors. FinTech, Cyber, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing lead the way, but there’s a wonderful spread of readers from across all areas – RegTech, Education, Agriculture, Defence and Space, BioTech, and Medical.
What can you expect from us this year? More reporting at those things at the critical intersection of policy, research, investment and business. How these things can work together to unlock better outcomes for Australian industry and the national economy.
We also have plans to more directly bring the voices of the Australian innovation community into our publication, giving opportunities for people to say in their own words what they have been doing and what they think the road ahead looks like. More contributions from outside of our editorial ranks.
Overall, we want to better share the stories and ideas of those who are walking the tightrope successfully, finding that path from great research to commercialisation, or from bright idea to execution at scale.
Please take some time to download our readership survey and read the results. And we welcome your further feedback.
We thank you for your readership and your participation in our forums. We hope you’ll come with us on the next phase of this journey.
Seamus Byrne is the Managing Editor at InnovationAus.com.