Australia may be rising in the global innovation rankings
but we have a way to go before we are up there with the Scandinavian countries, the US, the UK and Singapore. Our university and industry research collaboration record is still pretty dismal. And it probably doesn’t help that the attitude across the university/business divide is fairly disrespectful in Australia.
It’s amazing how many businesses in Australia will just dismiss the relationship with universities, in terms of enrolments in high tech courses, publication quality, and research collboration as being irrelevant to innovation. From corporate towers to the smallest business, the prospect of collaboration with academia is considered a waste of time and money.
But here’s the thing: the highest jumping countries in the global innovation index
for this year were China and Israel. And the mechanism for their success was through improving relationships with universities.
Of course the fault for a lack of collaboration in Australia doesn’t just rest with industry. Academic institutions need to provide easy, accessible opportunities for businesses large and small to conduct short term, low cost research projects, and use these to drive higher end investment. And academics themselves need to look at their own research and consider how it might be used in a commercial context. If both sides come together to provide opportunities for research, then more students will be attracted to studying in programs, there will be more of a relationship between industry and academia, and there will be greater commercialisation of research.
Just as China has done in the last year. And Israel.
It’s actually pretty easy to become an innovation nation. We just need to break down the contemptuous attitude existing on both sides of the fence.