Innovation – Its value, Its pre-conditions

Contemporary governments have shown themselves keen to stimulate ‘innovation’ in the Australian economy as a desirable driver of economic growth and a prerequisite for investment by business in new generation enterprises.

To give substance to its broad strategic intention to foster innovation, the Commonwealth Government has funded a series of strategic research programs coordinated by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (

Australia’s Comparative Advantage is the culmination of one of those programs, a three-year project by the Academy for the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) (

ASSA writes: “The report Australia’s Comparative Advantage highlights the opportunities for reform given the emerging social, political, economic and technological trends facing Australia. The report sees Australia’s comparative advantage as national capabilities that need to be developed and enhanced. It recognises our natural advantages in traditional sectors like mining and agriculture, and looks to increased creation of advantage in advanced manufacturing and service industries. It highlights the opportunities from capitalising on a well-skilled and effective workforce and Australia’s strong and respected research capability.”

The Academy approached the Royal Society of Queensland to host an event to publicise the report. This event was held on 7 September in the Auditorium, Queensland Museum, co-hosted with the Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering Queensland Division (ATSE).

Prof Glen Withers AO FASSA, current President of ASSA, presented the report.  Click Forum_7_Sept_Withers for Prof Withers’ address.

Prof Withers advised that the authors of the report were keen to strengthen the analysis by engaging in cross-disciplinary dialogue with scientists.

Society member Prof Ian Lowe AO FATSE as first respondent pointed out that economic growth, which requires expanding throughput of raw materials and energy, cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet. His power points are available: Forum 7 Sept 2016 Lowe.

Second respondent Ms Natasha Neale, Executive Director, Innovation Policy & Insights, Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, described a number of programs sponsored by the Queensland Government that could be classed as ‘information infrastructure’, feeding innovation from the ground up.

Ms Neale has provided web links to various programs under the Advance Queensland initiative:

Advance Queensland

Advance Queensland is a Queensland Government initiative working to foster innovation-led economic growth. It will position Queensland as a place where entrepreneurs, industry, universities and government collaborate to turn great ideas into commercial products and businesses.

Advance Queensland involves a comprehensive suite of programs including:

Engaging Science Grants

These grants support science engagement and communication projects, events and activities that increase the reach and impact of science in Queensland.

Research fellowships

The fellowships support post-PhD researchers with funding over three years to undertake research addressing Queensland’s science and research priorities.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

The partnerships build collaboration between universities and small business by bringing on a university graduate to work on an innovative project.

Business Development Fund

The fund helps to turn ideas into reality with co-investment in Queensland businesses at the forefront of commercialising ground-breaking research or innovations.

Visit the Advance Queensland website to learn more”.