Roy Green on his achievements, innovation and the future

Emeritus Professor Roy Green was named as AM in the Australia Day honours ‘for significant service to business, and to tertiary education in the fields of science, technology and innovation’. Here Roy talks with @AuManufacturing news.

@AuManufacturing: Congratulations Roy on a much deserved honour. May I ask you for your response to being honoured by the community in this way?
I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of all the great people I work with to make Australia a more diverse and resilient knowledge-based society, especially those engaged in the major task of building a world leading research and innovation system.

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play a part in these important efforts, which I am determined will continue into the future.

The challenges of geopolitics and climate change as well as supply chain vulnerabilities in Australia make the need for increased sovereign capability and economic diversification all the more urgent.

@AuManufacturing: You have achieved much in education, including as Dean of MGSM and Dean of Business at UTS, Sydney? What do you think your greatest achievement has been in tertiary education

Green: I count myself lucky to have really enjoyed my experiences in higher education, from my undergraduate days in Adelaide to the rarefied but highly charged but highly charged intellectual milieu of Cambridge to the challenges of industrial transformation in Newcastle, to the lessons we can draw from the innovation powerhouse of Ireland, to the world of globally ranked MBAs at Macquarie Graduate School of Management and then to the boundary-crossing education, research and industry collaboration we strive for at UTS.

As you have indicated previously, a highlight would have to be working with the architect Frank Gehry to design a business school building at UTS that reflected these lofty aspirations for our students and the people we engage with in business and the community. We were inspired by Gehry’s unique method of ‘designing from the inside out’ which aligned with our vision of business education as both life-long and life changing, and I hope the building works as well for future generations as it does now.

@AuManufacturing: Many of us would see your greatest contribution to business as being in understanding the nature and challenges of creating innovative cultures in business? How would you rate Australia’s innovative performance?

Green: I believe current productivity and real wage stagnation in Australia reflects an increasingly acknowledged complacency over many years in business and government.

Commodity booms that momentarily lifted our national income disguised the problems we now face with a narrow trade and industrial structure, overly reliant on the export of unprocessed raw materials. This is reflected in the Harvard Atlas of economic complexity, which rates Australia number 93 out of 133 countries, way behind all other OECD countries. We see similar numbers in the annual Global Innovation Index.

Our expenditure on R&D has dropped to 1.68 percent as a share of GDP while countries like Korea, Israel and Switzerland are moving up to 4 and 5 per cent as part of ambitious national industrial strategies. And our manufacturing trade deficit has doubled over the last two decades, hollowing out capability across entire industrial sectors.

The still relatively new Federal Labor government is putting into place a range of policies to build on Australia’s current and potential areas of competitive advantage in global markets and value chains.

But the danger now is that the more pressing cost of living crisis will persuade policy-makers to prioritise short-term responses over the longer term need for structural change and transformation in our economy.

@AuManufacturing:What next for Roy Green?

Green: It’s pretty much business as usual for me in the various areas where I can hopefully make a difference.

We have a big challenge at the Port of Newcastle as we move the world’s biggest coal export port to a more diversified future, playing a part in energy transition and the development of a more efficient and sustainable container shipping industry.

Likewise at the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub, we are focused on industrial transformation in the SME sector through the take-up of robotics, automation, AI and digital technologies more generally. This is not easy but we have built a collaborative network of universities, businesses and public agencies to assist in this endeavour.

At SmartSat CRC we are committed to the development and promotion of Australian research in space and spatial technologies. This will be critical across a number of areas of sovereign capability, from agriculture to smart sensing to defence to climate action.

Related to this I’m also pleased to be contributing to Charles Sturt University (CSU) Council on the challenges of rural and regional innovation, as well as equity and participation issues for these important communities.

And at CSIRO, where I have only just joined the board, I am looking forward to working with the new CEO on building the presence and impact of our premier science agency in the research and innovation system.

I also continue to have a part time role at UTS where I undertake research, provide policy advice and assist the Vice Chancellor and his team with the implementation of the university’s strategic plan. In particular, we see UTS as a key driver of manufacturing revival and reinvention. Watch this space!

@AuManufacturing: Thank you Roy for your time. Can I add the appreciation of readers of @AuManufacturing and members of the Australian Manufacturing Forum for your significant contributions to thinking and debate

Further reading:
Catherine Livingstone, Roy Green in Australia Day honours

Picture: Roy Green

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