Collaboration, trust key to ICT innovation

Without mutual respect and shared commitment to project goals, Australia’s national innovation system will fail to realize its potential, according to the chairman of CSIRO and the Australian Business Foundation, Catherine Livingstone.

“Collaboration has the potential to reduce transaction costs and increase the innovation yield, complete will independent activity,” Livingstone told a gathering of IT leaders at Telstra’s collaborative research conference in Sydney last week. “The demand for innovation has grown and globalized almost exponentially, making it imperative for Australia to achieve true collaboration even greater.”

Livingstone, who is also a director at Macquarie Bank, Telstra, and The Sydney Institute, said Australia’s innovation is inextricably linked to the global system.

“The key word here is probably not innovation but system - a system with causal loops, feedback loops, and unintended consequences. Most importantly, because it is a system, it can be tuned,” she said. “So our first-order challenge is to actually acknowledge the different environment and think through far more than we do the consequences of the actions we take, and supply that to all participants – business to policy makers to us as individuals.”

Australia’s second challenge is the extent to which we think to shape and nurture our national innovation system, or the extent to which we allow it to be driven and shaped by the global system, according to Livingstone.

“One thing we do know is that other countries are executing deliberate and ambitious national innovation systems strategies, and those strategies have consequences for Australia,” she said.

Stating that collaboration is “not just an agreement between CEOs” or a “technology park”, Livingstone believes it is fundamentally a social activity.

“If you take an architectural view of collaboration, you’re doomed to failure,” she said. “Collaboration is people, it is a fundamentally social activity to which collaboration partners contribute not just physical capital and equipment, not just intellectual capital in terms of people and IP, but also social capital.”

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