A Senate inquiry today heard evidence from a range of leading experts across business and academia highlighting the need for an innovation agenda that fosters greater collaboration and investment.
Evidence given at an Economics References Committee hearing in Brisbane emphasised the need for more linkages between industry and the research community if Australia is to lift its innovation performance.
The CSIRO and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) emphasised that our national research infrastructure helps deliver the knowledge underpinning private sector innovation, but that it cannot recoup costs from private investment alone. Ongoing public investment in research infrastructure is necessary to provide the backbone of our innovation system.
Cook Medical Australia’s Chief Financial Officer told the committee that it is their strong view that innovation and manufacturing are inextricably linked.
Representatives from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) described the R&D Tax Incentive as a highly effective mechanism to stimulate greater R&D investment.
The AIBN warned that cuts to the incentive are detrimental to our innovation performance because they create great uncertainty and discourage private sector investment.
The CSIRO, AIBN and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland each confirmed that access to finance remains an issue, particularly for small and medium enterprises. Companies are coming up with great ideas but face challenges accessing the capital required to bring new products to market.
The evidence provided today serves as a stark reminder that the Liberals’ constant cuts to commercialisation and venture capital schemes, the R&D Tax Incentive and Enterprise Connect are counter-productive and only serve to discourage collaboration and investment.
Labor has always listened to industry and the research community on these matters. We understand that Australia needs public investment and a long term plan to build an innovation ecosystem to create the high-tech and high-wage industries and jobs of the future.
This is why Labor has set an aspiration for our nation to devote 3 per cent of its GDP to R&D by the end of the next decade.
To help us get there, Labor will establish a $500 million Smart Investment Fund to partner with venture capitalists and fund managers to invest in early stage innovation and high potential companies.
And Labor will work with the banks and finance industry to establish a StartUp Finance scheme, providing a partial guarantee to help more Australians convert their great ideas into good businesses.
Only Labor understands the importance of innovation and we will continue to work with stakeholders to develop a strong and sustainable national innovation system.