Major Step Forward but More Needed: Business Council of Australia

 

The Business Council of Australia today applauded the federal government’s innovation statement as a major step forward. It is a very closely targeted and integrated series of initiatives.

The President of the Business Council of Australia, Dr John Schubert, said: “The Business Council regards this matter as extremely important for Australia. Ideas generated by smart people are the only basis for sustainable competitive advantage. It was for this reason we initiated and co-sponsored the National Innovation Summit and strongly supported the subsequent processes."

“The recommendations of the Innovation Summit Implementation Group (the Miles Report) and the Chief Scientist (the Batterham Report) focus attention upon three key concerns – the need to create an ideas culture; the generation of ideas; and the commercialisation of ideas. Boosting the research infrastructure and creating a more attractive tax environment for research and development are fundamental elements of that.”

The BCA believes a national innovation agenda has four main elements:

  • Ensuring the science infrastructure is adequate.
  • Provision of the right incentives to public research agencies and researchers to commercialise their work.
  • Ensuring we have sufficient well-trained scientists, technologists and skilled workers and a workplace culture to take advantage of new ideas and bring new products to market.
  • Encouragement for firms to undertake significant research and development in Australia.

“The government should be congratulated for its response, which has picked up many of the key requirements of a national innovation strategy. However, more resources and further initiatives will be required over time, especially in relation to commercialisation of research, if the innovation strategy is going to have the impact required to transform the economy.”

“There has been a decline in business research and development over recent years, and this package will need to be supplemented as fiscal policy allows in order to fully turn that around. In addition, more specific incentives to encourage commercialisation of new ideas within Australia will be needed if successful research and development is to produce the greatest national benefit.”

“We will continue to work to identify additional initiatives that will encourage and facilitate business research and development spending rather than see it moving offshore. It is also of concern that changes to the definition of research and development for tax purposes announced today, not only undercut in some degree some of the gains announced, but may be made retrospective. Any such move would fundamentally compromise the integrity of previous investments in research and development by Australian business.”

“Overall, however, this package will provide a timely and much-needed boost to the national research effort. It will also support sectors such as information and communications technology and biotechnology, which will underpin Australia’s competitive future.”