Microsoft Australia managing director, Pip Marlow, has called on Australian business to urgently review its technology and innovation policies or risk losing $6 billion in gross domestic product.
Marlow's comment follows the release of a Microsoft discussion paper on Australia's innovation ecosystem and analysis from PwC.
The paper is titled Joined-Up Innovation: Making the right connections across Australia’s innovation ecosystem to support our future growth and international competitiveness.
Marlow said Australia needed to revive the innovation landscape.
“Australia has amazing strengths,” she said
“These range from our wealth of natural resources to our location in the fast-growing Asian region, our economic and political stability, cultural diversity and smart population.
“But if we want to maintain – and preferably improve – our competitive position, we need to reinvent our innovation ecosystem for the information age rather than sticking with models developed in the industrial age.”
The paper introduces Microsoft’s vision for ‘Joined-Up Innovation’, a new approach for improving connections within our innovation ecosystem locally and globally, and has been created in conjunction with a number of the nation’s leading innovators and innovation experts.
It features a particular focus on the potential for gains in the small and medium-enterprise sector.
Marlow said SMEs were often overlooked as a source of innovation in Australia.
“However, they develop more than one third of Australia’s gross domestic product and account for more than half of private sector employment," she said.
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"Previous research has shown these businesses are less risk-averse than large companies, giving them a greater willingness and cultural capacity to innovate.”
PwC research suggests transforming Australia’s SME laggards to leaders in their use of technology specifically, could increase GDP by nearly $6 billion (or 0.4 per cent) in 2012-2013, increase real wages by 0.5 per cent and raise revenue in the economy by $11 billion.
The analysis stresses technology adoption must also be accompanied by business process change in order for Australia to boost innovation and multi-factor productivity.
The discussion paper was framed by a roundtable discussion between a group of innovation experts brought together by Microsoft in early 2014 as well as further interviews.
Roundtable participant and Dean of UTS Business School, Roy Green, said:“I’ve long believed that not only the world’s future, but Australia’s future, lies in developing knowledge-based industries and services.”
Other roundtable participants included: Dr Genevieve Bell, director of interaction and experience research, Intel; Suzanne Campbell, CEO, Australian Information Industry Association; Dr Kate Cornick, director of industry engagement and innovation, The University of Melbourne; Dr Alan Finkel, president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; Peter Freedman, CEO, RØDE Microphones; and Dr Frank Vetere, associate professor, The University of Melbourne.