The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) has reported that innovation in Australia is suffering from a lack of direction, short-termism and a haphazard approach.

Translating research for economic and social benefit examined innovation initiatives in 14 nations and found a clear link between national policy and performance. Ron Johnston was responsible for reports on Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and for drafting key parts of the final report.

Launching the report at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC said it was a timely reminder that success owes more to choice than chance.“Fiddling at the margins of policy will not secure the economic transformation we need to keep pace, let alone compete in an ambitious world,” Professor Chubb said.

“Nations which do better than us are characterised by intelligent policy settings and programs which encourage a culture of innovation and collaboration. “Like them, we should not idly wait in the expectation that something will come along to deliver the outcomes that other countries have achieved through national innovation strategies. They have clearly identified where, when and how governments need to intervene to realise aspiration.”

The ACOLA report examined programs and policies designed to translate research into economic benefits in each of the 14 countries, and concluded Australia was squandering opportunity.Amongst its 15 key findings, the report highlighted the need for a coherent national innovation strategy with an agency to manage it and less reliance on indirect support for business such as through the R&D Tax Incentive.

The full report is available at acola.org.au. The European reports can be found in the publications folder.