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Minister: Australian innovation has ‘a long way to catch up’

Minister: Australian innovation has ‘a long way to catch up’

New CEO announced for Government innovation body, but report card says Australia needs to find a better way to attract, develop and retain talent

Government body, Commercialisation Australia, has appointed Doron Ben-Meir as its first CEO. Ben-Meir will be responsible for $278.1 million worth of taxpayer dollars over the next five years.

The body will push start-ups and entrepreneurs to take on Government grants worth $50,000 to $250,000 for a range of services and advisors.

The announcement came during a keynote speech by Innovation Minister, Kim Carr, during the Collaborating for Success conference in Melbourne on April 19. According to the Minister, the new CEO has over 20 years of experience in the venture capital market.

“He comes to the job with a keen understanding of the challenges facing anyone trying to commercialise new ideas in Australia, and a fresh take on how the Government can best assist innovators to overcome these challenges,” Minister Carr said.

The Minister also released the 2010 Australian Innovation Systems Report, which is a new annual report to measure Australia’s performance in innovation.

Australia is not faring well in research capacity, business innovation or collaboration between businesses and higher education institutions, the report said. The country is ranked 15th in public spending on tertiary education and only spends 0.054 per cent of its GDP on early stage venture capital.

“We need to get much better at attracting, developing and retaining talent,” Minister Carr said. “We have a disproportionate number of small firms, which often find it difficult to identify and apply best practice.

“We still trail the pacesetters on several important measures, including business expenditure on R&D, the proportion of firms engaged in innovation and the level of collaboration between public researchers and private industry.”

The Minister’s claims come after it stirred up significant ill-will from a wide range of industries, including IT and software providers. A wall of opposition from SMEs to big business and taxation firms accused the Government of ignoring industry advice and rushing through attempted changes.


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