On 18 March 2014, the Senate referred to the Senate Economics References Committee an inquiry into the challenges to Australian industries and jobs posed by increasing global competition in innovation, science, engineering, research and education.

On Thursday 20 August 2015, Senator Kim Carr, the Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry issued a media release advising of the tabling of an interim report into innovation, future jobs and industries.

The purpose of the interim report is to encourage further debate on Australia’s innovation system and highlights the importance of science, research and innovation in creating the jobs and industries of the future.

The interim report includes a comprehensive issues paper by Professor Roy Green, who was engaged by the committee as an expert consultant for the purposes of this wide-ranging inquiry. The issues paper by Professor Green highlights a number of issues, ranging from:

  • understanding the differing priorities in investment in Research and Development (R&D);
  • identifying and enabling new technologies (micro/ nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, semiconductors, advanced materials, photonics, analytics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology) that could have a major impact on transformation of the Australian industry;
  • improving and simplifying education and skills funding to create a lifelong learning environment;
  • understanding and deepening collaboration between businesses and universities;
  • strengthening Australia’s innovation and entrepreneurial culture by gaining insight into market behaviours and customer wants; and
  • investigating the possible creation of a national body tasked with developing an overarching strategy and plan for encouraging a coordinated approach to innovation investment.

 The committee is holding its next public hearing in Perth on Monday 24 August 2015. The committee received 181 submissions but closed 31 July 2014.

After several extensions of time from the Senate, a final report is due no later than 25 November 2015. We will keep you informed of developments.

This committee’s interim report is further to a Productivity Commission broad inquiry into Australia’s intellectual property (IP) arrangements announced 18 August 2015 by the Treasurer Joe Hockey and the Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson. A link discussing the Productivity Commission inquiry can be found here.