Evidence presented to the Economics References Committee hearing in Melbourne today emphasised the need for strategic and consistent support from government for a thriving national innovation system.
The BioMelbourne Network described Australia, particularly Melbourne, as a hub for the biotech and medical research but stressed that continued support from government, both in terms of industry programs and stable policy settings, is essential if Australia is to remain internationally competitive.
Representatives from AusBiotech and CSL told the Committee that access to capital remains a significant roadblock for advanced manufacturing and that a suite of measures is required to help take great Australian ideas and intellectual property from the laboratory, through to the factory floor and into global markets.
Representatives from the University of Melbourne highlighted the great entrepreneurial talent that is available in Australia, a point echoed by other innovation experts. However while Australia ranks among the best in the world for entrepreneurial talent, we fail to exploit this potential and need to get better at turning Australian inventions and discoveries into commercial outcomes.
A range of experts lauded the success of the R&D Tax Incentive and were adamant that the scheme should be protected from any further cuts or reductions, whilst also flagging that carefully thought-out expansions of the scheme, for example to encourage greater collaboration with universities and publicly funded research agencies, could help to address cultural barriers to collaboration.
Witnesses from Deloitte and Keech Australia told the Committee that closures in motor vehicle manufacturing will have a negative impact on our national manufacturing capabilities.
They argued that Australia needs to maintain a broad manufacturing base, including traditional industries, in order to produce the advanced manufacturing industries of tomorrow.
All of this requires collaboration between industry, education and research, matched with a long-term vision and ongoing investment from government.
The evidence provided today makes it clear that Australia needs a globally oriented, innovation-driven economy to create the high-tech industries and high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future.