Executive summary

The continuation of Australia’s economic growth is under threat. In order to sustain the levels of prosperity we have previously experienced, we have to build on our competitive edge in key industries to remain globally competitive. Alongside these developments, Australia’s higher education system is under increased pressure to become more productive and develop courses that address employability. Innovation represents the most reliable and sustainable solution to transition into a high value, high wage economy. Yet Australia ranks 29th out of 30 in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of the proportion of large businesses and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) collaborating with higher education and public research institutions on innovation.

This report acts as the next level of detail to publications such as the Department of Industry’s Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research report and the Business Council of Australia’s Building Australia’s Comparative Advantages, which have highlighted Australia’s poor performance in collaborative innovation.

We present five recommendations that are a call to action to universities, industry and Government to take the necessary steps to build an innovation economy. They are not a call for additional funding from Government, rather a more effective way of using our existing resources. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have engaged with leading figures from industry, including the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), and partnered with the ATN to develop this five point action plan for Government, the university sector and industry 5 that will provide incentives and impetus for collaboration.

Our recommendations include:

  1. Rebalance the national research agenda to underpin Australia's economy and future prosperity
  2. Create incentives for university-industry collaboration
  3. Train researchers for diverse careers
  4. Enhance career mobility between industry, academia and government
  5. Provide incentives for co-investment in research infrastructure between universities, industry and state and federal government

Each recommendation contains a number of practical strategies for consideration by Government, universities and industry. The hope is that the report will encourage dialogue between the three groups and prompt bold policy changes in the coming 12 months and beyond.


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