ATSE presents a lunchtime forum at Sydney’s Union, University and Schools Club on Monday 21 November 2016 on the topic of Greater Collaboration: The Industry Challenge.
In this forum, with presenters from a leading global company and a highly successful SME in the defence industry, touted by the government as a focus for productive innovation, ATSE is seeking to canvass how the strategies and practices of Australian industry for research engagement are evolving.
- Kathryn Fagg, Chair of ATSE’s Industry & Innovation Forum / Board Member of the Reserve Bank of Australia
- Chris Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, Thales Australia and New Zealand
- William Hutchinson, Chairman, Thomas Global Systems
The forum will be facilitated by Professor Ron Johnston, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Innovation, and Deputy Chair of ATSE’s Industry & Innovation Forum.
Australia ranks near the bottom in OECD statistics on the level of collaboration between innovative firms and higher education and public research institutions. The proportion of innovating companies in Australia is also low – Australia is second last in R&D-active firms in the manufacturing and service sectors. Yet corporate Australia has been slow to appreciate that the transformational innovation necessary to drive sustained economic growth can best be generated via structured collaboration between industry and research teams. Many factors contribute to this dire situation. Firms perceive universities and research organisations as unworldly, out of touch with business reality, too slow and bureaucratic. Whereas researchers view firms as excessively focused on the short term and unwilling to shift their emphasis from current problems to future opportunities. However there are exceptions – major companies that invest seriously in innovation and research, SMEs that are driven by exploiting technology-based opportunities, newer industry sectors that rely on close interaction with research (eg. medical devices), and researchers closely connected with companies. The challenge is how to transform the exceptions to the norm.
Key questions to be considered include:
- How do successful companies innovate sustainably – through their own research or via innovation in their supply chains (e.g. contract product development and testing via technology-based SMEs)?
- Do companies operate coherent business models which build capacity within firms for innovation and collaboration with research organisations resulting in growth opportunities?
- For businesses and research organisations, is engagement with each other part of the job description of all employees?