The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has called on the federal government to take urgent action on implementing a science and technology strategy to drive innovation and growth.
The AIIA on Friday said it supported chief scientist professor Ian Chubb’s strategy paper, which said that Australia’s investments and policies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have suffered from a lack of coordination, misdirected effort, instability and duplication.
Australia is the only OECD country without a science or technology strategy, and Chubb asserted that policy and program responsibility at federal level is diffuse. Chubb said in our region, China, India, Indonesia, and Singapore all have strategies to 2015 and beyond.
The AIIA wants a coordinated approach to innovation in Australia across education, skills, regulation and policy, funding and infrastructure.
John Grant, AIIA board member and former chair of the former Labor government’s IT Industry Innovation Committee, urged the government to acknowledge that innovation is not serendipitous.
“Innovation is not an end in itself. It is the means to achieve higher order outcomes – the growth, productivity, and competitiveness that underpins national prosperity. It is precisely because innovation is so critical to achieving these outcomes that a more systemic approach to Australia’s innovation system is crucial.
“The level of investment lead economies such as the US, UK, South Korea, Singapore, and the European Union are directing to STEM, education and training, innovation, entrepreneurial capability development and high tech startups, is clear evidence that serendipity is not a sure bet,” Grant said.
In his strategy paper, Chubb pointed out that the reported $8.6 billion allocated to science, research and innovation investment 2012-2013 was spread across a suite of programs in 13 portfolios.
Australia ranks 81st as a converter of raw innovation capability into the outputs organisations need such as new knowledge, better products, creative industries and growing wealth, Chubb’s report said.
“We have had many reports, inquiries, policies and aspirations, with little progress, Chubb’s report said.
“Responsibility for monitoring actions and outcomes of our STEM investment is currently split across levels and portfolios of government. Our datasets are incomplete in coverage and fragmented in their approach. We do not have the tools we require to track our progress, act swiftly on gaps or help stakeholders see their place in the whole,” he said in the report.
Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnollyRead more: ICT misses out in govt's 'pathetic' university funding