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Screenshot from cover page of Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation/ Credit: Innovation and Science Australia

Screenshot from cover page of Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation/ Credit: Innovation and Science Australia

Australian Government's 2030 innovation plan identifies five imperatives for action

Last week, Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) released a strategic plan for the Australian innovation, science and research system out to 2030. Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation (the 2030 Plan) aims to contribute to the wellbeing and prosperity of all Australians by strengthening Australia's innovation performance to become a leading innovation nation.

The Australian Government launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) in 2015. It created a long-term, strategic investment framework by establishing ISA with an independent and expert board. ISA was tasked with undertaking a performance review of Australia’s innovation system, and developing a strategic plan to 2030 advising policy makers on how to optimise investment in Australian innovation.

The Plan provides a national roadmap for government to accelerate Australian innovation and achieve ISA’s vision for 2030 which aims to leverage Australia’s strengths in innovation, science and research will benefit all Australians through 1) strong economic growth; 2) competitive industries and companies, and collaborative education and knowledge institutions; 3) plentiful jobs that are meaningful and productive; and 4) a fair and inclusive society with a high quality of life.

According to the plan document, by 2030 a shortage of workers is a more likely problem than a shortage of jobs due to automation. A McKinsey report estimated that Australia’s ageing population will create a 6 per cent shortfall in the number of workers needed to maintain current gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2030. In this scenario, innovation and digital technologies such as automation will help fill Australia’s future labour gap, by improving productivity and performing tasks workers do not want, or need, to do.

In addition, the types of jobs available, the skills needed to do them, and the length of employment will change.

To benefit from future opportunities, Australia will have to be one of the best places in the world in which to undertake innovation, science and research.

As part of the 2030 strategy, ISA has identified five imperatives for action across the innovation system in Australia:

  1. Education: Respond to the changing nature of work by equipping all Australians with skills relevant to 2030
  2. Industry: Ensure Australia’s ongoing prosperity by stimulating high-growth firms and improving productivity
  3. Government: Become a catalyst for innovation and be recognised as a global leader in innovative service delivery
  4. Research & development: Improve research and development effectiveness by increasing translation and commercialisation of research
  5. Culture & ambition:  Enhance the national culture of innovation by launching ambitious National Missions

Within education, the Plan recommends improving the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and 21st-century skills through development for teachers and school leaders. Other areas of focus include reducing education inequality through targeted interventions and making Australia’s vocational educational and training system more responsive to new priorities. 

For the industry, the Plan talks about better targeting the Research and Development Tax Incentive program, and increasing support for direct grant programs that target national priorities. Industry–research sector collaboration could be increased by introducing a collaboration premium in the Research and Development Tax Incentive program. 

The Export Market Development Grants funding can be used to support the growth of export firms, particularly young high-growth firms, by expanding and making better use of trade agreements. Australia’s digital economy can be strengthened to capture opportunities presented by the Internet. (Last year, the Australian Government announced that it will develop a national Digital Economy Strategy, in consultation with industry, thought-leaders, small and medium sized businesses, government, community as well as the broader private sector.) 

In addition, access to global talent can be improved through flexibility in skilled immigration rules, and increasing the profile of Australia as an attractive destination for business builders.

The government has to ensure a flexible regulatory environment that supports innovation. The Plan also recommends accelerating the use of open data by improving access and usefulness and using government procurement as a strategic lever to stimulate innovation. 

Within the R&D area, there is scope to increase institutional support for commercialisation by establishing a dedicated stream of funding for translational activities. Maintaining Australia’s high-quality research will require continued investment in national research infrastructure, commencing with the nation’s high-performance computing facilities. 

The plan proposes a Genomics and Precision Medicine National Mission as an ideal ambitious first mission. According to ISA, the development of a robust framework to identify and implement missions can help ensure that Australia’s National Missions are effective. 

Read the complete report here. 

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