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ACT Must Do More on Innovation: Report

ACT Must Do More on Innovation: Report

The ACT government should set up a new institution focused on innovation and put more effort into enhancing Canberra's knowledge economy, according to a report on innovation released last month.

The report calls for the setting up of a new entity, Innovation Canberra, to provide leadership and direction in the development and implementation of knowledge-based innovation strategies for the ACT and surrounding region, with particular focus on the ICT and the creative practices sectors.

It says Innovation Canberra should consist of members drawn from business, creative, education, and government sectors, with members contributing to overhead and operating costs and the ACT government providing seed funding for start-up costs.

The report, Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, released last month by ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, studied the ACT's capabilities in research and development and innovation, and the contribution those activities made to the economy.

Stanhope says the report identified areas for improvement.

"As the home to internationally renowned research and education institutions and a large pool of highly skilled and talented labour force, the ACT's credentials as a leading knowledge capital and centre of innovation are indisputable," he says.

"The study identifies a number of areas where further improvements in innovation could bring about substantial benefits in the ACT, including sustaining economic growth and creating more high-quality employment opportunities."

Stanhope says the growth in global competition in research and innovation prompted the report, which will provide input into a national review of innovation systems, as well as the Canberra 2020 Forum in April.

The report notes innovation, the successful exploitation of new ideas, cannot occur without two vitally important ingredients: creativity and leadership.

"Whilst innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas, creativity involves the development of original and novel ideas that have a commercial application. Leadership is the capability that ensures the translation of ideas into practical application through management and organisational frameworks," the report says.

And it says since business success is reflected in overall economic success as indicated by new business formation, business growth, and longer term business sustainability, governments have a major interest in ensuring that businesses that fall within their jurisdictions are innovative.

The report calls on Innovation Canberra to be tasked to develop a strategic agenda of major projects and initiatives and advocate, promote, and seek funding support from industry, higher education and government - locally, nationally and internationally.

It also recommends the ACT government consider making further investments to build capability, given "the potential for the creative sector to make a stronger contribution to economic development."

And it calls on the government to establish an Ideas Fund to nurture innovative ideas and concepts to a stage of development where they become potentially marketable products and services and are of interest to customers and/or technology investors.

It also recommends the Epicorp incubation and enterprise development model be extended, in partnership with universities, research organisations, and national collecting institutions, into a Canberra Innovation Development Centre directed towards product development and scale up for technology and arts and creative businesses.

However consulting ICT professional Tom Worthington, who writes the Net Traveller blog, says one deficiency of the report is that it does not address new approaches to intellectual property, such as Open Source and Open Access. These provide the potential to unlock creativity, innovation and economic development currently lying unused in tertiary institutions and government agencies in Canberra, he notes.

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