A report from the Office of Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) shows Australia’s innovation performance isn’t as good as perhaps we would like to think it is.

ISA’s Performance Review of the Australian Innovation Science and Research System 2016 report provides a snap shot of our current progress on innovation and is designed to inform the strategic plan for enhancing innovation in Australia’s innovation, science and research system to 2030 – due in late 2017.

While the mining industry can hold its head high next to the manufacturing, financial services and professional, scientific and technical services as introducing high levels of new-to-the-world innovations, our SME’s are out performing larger businesses.   

Australia has the fourth-highest proportion of innovating SME’s across all countries in the OECD – with almost two thirds of Australian SME’s introduced an innovation in 2012-13.

The proportion of large Australian companies that have introduced an innovation (68 per cent) is around the OECD average for large firms (69 per cent), which falls well behind the average for of the top five performing countries (87 per cent).

There is no doubt Innovation remains a major focal point for policy, as decision makers across the country scan the horizon to identify new sources of growth. So, the report is useful for understanding where we need to go next.

The system uses a simple framework to guide performance assessment, identifying three innovation activities:

  • Knowledge creation – Origination of new ideas, often by building on prior research, innovation and reputation.
  • Knowledge transfer – Identification and selection of knowledge for application, and passage of knowledge
  • Knowledge application – Development, trialling, testing, refining and iterating of ideas to address a specific problem or need.

The framework identifies six categories of enablers that facilitate innovation activities within each of these areas – money, infrastructure, skills, networks, culture and policy.

The linkages across, within and between innovation activities and enablers are of critical importance to eventual outcomes.