Real World Futures

Big bang to kickstart innovation

Date: 31 January 2018

Innovation, the word key to Australia’s future but death to its politicians, needs a “big bang” approach if it is to seize the public imagination, a new federal government report find.

 

Innovation and Science Australia calls for the launch of some ambitious national missions, audacious in their approach to address major challenges.

It highlights a number of potential missions that might fit the bill but also recommends the federal government launch a process to identify others.

Those it highlights include:

. Using genomics and precision medicine to make Australia the healthiest nation on Earth;

. Restoring the health of the Great Barrier Reef;

. Running and entire city, using only hydrogen power.

“Science, technology and innovation are instrumental in meeting Australia’s rising demand for public services and tackling Australia’s biggest social and environmental challenges, including improving health outcomes, increasing public safety and decarbonising the economy,” Innovation and Science Australia says in its report.

"Tackling our national challenges is not the job of governments alone. Australia has a world-class pool of researchers, and an increasingly powerful technological toolkit, created by concurrent improvements in the performance and cost of complementary technologies such as genome sequencing, low-carbon energy, machine learning, AI, optimisation, visualisation, sensors and robotics.

"The strength of Australia’s local talent—and advances in technology and science—mean we need to raise our aspirations as a nation about what we can achieve.

 "One example is the opportunity to integrate genomics and precision medicine into our healthcare system to ensure that Australia continues to be one of the healthiest countries on Earth.

"Genomics is the study of genomes, our complete DNA, and it will play an important role in improving health outcomes through early diagnosis, preventative health, and safer and more personalised treatments.

"Australian researchers can use genomics to build on advances in precision medicine to tackle key causes of death and disability, and to accelerate access to breakthrough treatments to deliver better and more affordable health outcomes.”

ISA lists five imperatives the nation needs to tackle if it is to kickstart innovation. Most are familiar to participants in the Real World Futures series which has run since 2015.

The imperatives are to:

  • Respond to the changing nature of work by equipping all Australians with skills relevant to 2030
  • Ensure Australia’s ongoing prosperity by stimulating high-growth firms and improving productivity;
  • Become a catalyst for innovation and be recognised as a global leader in innovative service delivery;
  • Improve research and development effectiveness by increasing translation and commercialisation of research;
  • Enhance the national culture of innovation by launching ambitious National Missions.

The scale of the primary challenge (equipping Australians with the skills they need) is illustrated by the accompanying graph which shows declining school outcomes even in the face of greater education spending.

Content sourced from QUT News Web Service.

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