• Michael Weeding

Australia, It is Time to Get More Innovative!

Australia, it is time to become more innovative according to David Gonski, Chairman of Investec Bank (Australia) Limited, Chancellor of the University of NSW, Non Executive Director of Coca Cola Amatil, Morgan Stanley, ASX Limited (to name just a few of his positions) and a man the Sydney Morning Herald described in 2008 as “one of the country’s best-connected businessmen” and dubbed him “Mr Networks” for being “arguably Sydney’s most networked man.

At the Tata Consulting Services (TCS) annual client summit held last week in Sydney, Gonski outlined his views on innovation in Australia in a presentation entitled “Innovation in Australia, A Chairman’s Perspective” where he described Australia’s investments in R&D as an areas in need of improvement well below other developed countries with R&D representing only 2% of GDP, compared to 2.5% for USA & Denmark or 5% of Israel.

So as a country that has a history of innovation, the original settlers of this dry and arid land many thousands of years ago were able to adapt to this climate and find ways to survive why are we now falling behind the rest of the world, the reason Gonski puts down to the following 5 points:

1. Companies do not think long term – We will not get sustainable innovation unless we start to look long term and educate that this is a long term journey.

2. Getting funding is very difficult – We have to learn how to commercialise innovation.

3. Universities are constrained financially – Universities are the base of knowledge and we need to be able to foster and commercialise their knowhow.

4. Our attitude to life – Australians need to be creative, when we build our careers in only on sector how are we ever to form an objective view on another.

5. We worship only sporting heroes – It is time we got heroes that are not of a sporting nature.

With the rise and rise of technology it is more important than ever for a country to foster and support innovation within organisations and its citizens and as a country Australia has a lot of work to do in this area.


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