Cutler Review Smartens up the Support for Innovation

The Business Council of Australia has welcomed the key elements of ‘venturousaustralia’, the report of the expert panel led by Dr Terry Cutler which was released yesterday.

BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey, said the objective of increasing the competitiveness of Australian businesses in global markets was the key to achieving future economic and social aspirations.

Ms Lahey said the BCA supported a number of key elements in the report.

“First, we support the recommendation for the establishment of a National Innovation Council to coordinate priorities and measure performance.  Importantly, this will provide coordination between different levels of government.” Ms Lahey said.

“While we agree that it is desirable for a new body to replace an existing one, we would see merit in retaining the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council as a body that provides broad ranging advice to the federal government.

“Second, the aim of increasing the level of research and development by both business and the public sector is consistent with developing the ideas and also the advanced skills we need to develop new areas of competitive advantage.

“We would, however, like to see a greater emphasis placed on promoting collaborative structures and partnerships as the most effective way to realise economic and social benefits from research.  In addition, there should be a rigorous framework in place for assessing the quality and the potential benefits of research proposals, and for evaluating previous research.

“Third, business agrees with the objective of building our capacity for entrepreneurship and innovation. In particular, improving the quality and effectiveness of our education, training and skills systems is critical to making sure we have competitive and successful organisations into the future.

“Finally, policies should be aimed at encouraging innovation by businesses and also the public sector that is highly responsive to consumer demand and to national priorities.  We support the recognition given to this objective in the framing of the report,” she said.

Ms Lahey welcomed the emphasis in the report on international engagement. 

“About 98 per cent of new knowledge is developed overseas.  As a result, we need a strong and effective innovation system that is international in its focus,” she said.

“In relation to business regulation, while the report recognises the importance of this area, particularly intellectual property protection, we envisage an opportunity to go further in examining where regulatory barriers to innovation can be removed. 

“Achieving the BCA’s objective of a seamless economy for business regulation by 2010 should be a key focus.

“We also note the proposed changes to the taxation arrangements for research and development.  These proposals recognise that a simpler approach is needed, and one that is more suited to contemporary business practice.”