Manufacturing News

Editorial series launch – Towards 3% R&D – turbocharging Australia’s Innovation Effort

Manufacturing News

Today @AuManufacturing launches its latest editorial series – Towards 3% R&D – Turbocharging Australia’s Innovation Effort – with the bad, in fact the very bad news. After steadily rising since the 1980s, Australia’s innovation effort as measured by R&D spending has slumped dramatically in the past decade. Peter Roberts sets the scene.

Innovation is the lifeblood of every company and every nation – it is the vital investment in future knowledge, capabilities and skills that drives us forward.

But on the only measure we have of national innovation effort – research and development spending – Australia’s innovation effort is faltering

Canberra has a target of 3% R&D in the economy, but Australia’s R&D effort is at 1.68% of GDP and falling, according to an exhaustive analysis by innovation policy specialist Dr John Howard which we publish here today.

@AuManufacturing will publish contributions from readers for our series – Towards 3% R&D – turbocharging our national innovation effort – for the next month and in an e-Book, and we urge you to contribute. Call Peter Roberts, 0419 140679 or write to [email protected].

The Hawke/Keating government was the first to recognise the seminal role of innovation in driving economic outcomes, and the policies they set in place saw Australian R&D reach a peak of 2.24% of GDP – close to the OECD average of 2.28%.

But since then R&D spending has collapsed, especially during the nine years of the former Coalition government.

Digging deeper and business investment in R&D has tanked as has direct government expenditure on R&D.

The reasons for the decline are many, and will be explored by industry and innovation leaders in opinion articles to be published by @AuManufacturing in our series – Towards 3% R&D – Turbocharging Australia’s Innovation Effort – and then in a special eBook.

We will also reveal what has gone right such as the green shoots of an historic energy transition to renewables and a renewed focus on defence industry. Critically, the writers crowd sourced from among our readers will point the way ahead to a brighter future.

The downward trajectory of Australia’s innovation must be reversed – though it is easy to think that the state of innovation couldn’t get much worse.

Already the Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity, which assesses the current state of a country’s productive knowledge, shows Australia ranked 93 out of 133 countries, sitting just above Namibia and Pakistan, and a rung below Uganda and Malawi.

An economy utterly dependent on exporting undifferentiated minerals while eschewing complex, technology intensive sectors is one vulnerable to external shocks, and one that provides few opportunities to our young people.

Further reading:
Towards 3% R&D – The Statistics Do Not Lie By Dr John Howard
This series is brought to you through the support of our principal sponsor, public accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory BDO, and R&D tax incentive consultancy Michael Johnson Associates.

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