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La Trobe Business School

Tag: Australian Government

Innovate or Perish! Australia’s Innovation System

La Trobe University Professor of Practice in Economics, Dr Mark Cloney, questions popular reports that Australia performs badly in industry-university collaboration and innovation when compared to other OECD countries.

If Australia’s current innovation policy is based on questionable OECD data might the Australian Government run the risk of targeting scarce resources into the wrong areas as it prepares its strategic plan for Australian Innovation to 2030?

Concerns over the performance of Australia’s innovation system caused the Australian Government to undertake a Senate Inquiry (2014) and then flag innovation as a major policy focus when it announced its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). A central element of that policy statement was to substantially increase university-industry collaboration on the basis that such alliances internationally have become a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, dealing with the speed of transformation and economic disruption.

Australia, like the rest of the global economy, is facing significant structural change in the coming decades which offers both challenges and opportunities. Some suggest 40 per cent of today’s jobs will no longer exist in 10 years and that changing technology (robotics and artificial intelligence etc.) and new business models will continue to disrupt ‘old’ business processes and structures. Others say that this same disruption will also create new growth markets.

So is Australia’s innovation glass half full or half empty?

One strategy in meeting challenges and opportunities is adopting continuous innovation and the uptake of innovative skills and technologies. Continual innovation results in new markets, mindsets, skills and organisational re-design which are critical drivers of productivity and growth.

According to Universities Australia (2017), universities are central to skilling and upskilling the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs and startups and thereby improving Australia’s innovation system and sustainable growth. Its research finds that more than four in five Australian startups founders are university graduates (Universities Australia, 2017, p.3) and that startups were the largest contributor to job creation in Australia in the last decade (Universities Australia, 2017 p.8).

As suggested, the health of Australia’s innovation system still remains subject to conjecture and contrasting opinions with, for example, Australia is sitting at the bottom of OECD (2015) rankings in terms of university-industry collaboration. Moreover, according to Global Innovation Index (2017), Australia slid further down the world rankings in terms of innovation inputs and outputs from 19 to 23 in the latest world rankings among 127 countries (Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO, 2017). However, is this really the case?

A report by IP Australia challenges the notion that Australia is at the bottom of the OECD university-industry collaboration index arguing that this finding is based on questionable data selection. For example, when you focus on patent applications filed by an Australian university with a collaborator (business partner) Australia moves to the middle of comparable international tables (IP Australia, 2017).

The city of Melbourne, home to nine universities, was recently named as the ‘most intelligent community’ in the world at the Intelligent Community Forum in New York in June 2017. Based on six intelligent community indicators the New York think tank pointed to Melbourne’s broadband speed, research institutions, new innovation precincts and its focus on sustainability as its major strengths.

The challenge seems to be that Australian universities specialise in innovative research to answer fundamental questions, while businesses have specialist skills in commercialising and implementing products, services and ideas. However, university research can be often disconnected from the innovative needs of business (e.g. startups and SMEs) and not-for-profits.

So is there a disconnect? If so, why the disconnect? Or, are we doing better than we think?

Our National Innovation Forum on September 28 and 29 in Melbourne features  Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at IP Australia, and Dr Charles Day, CEO of the Office of Innovation and Science Australia. They will explore the current health of Australia’s innovation system. The Forum also presents industry and academic perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation through university-industry collaboration and engagement, particularly for startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the use of business accelerators and incubators.

No doubt the forum will shed some more light on whether Australia’s innovation glass is indeed half full or half empty, and where the Australian government may choose to target its resources to achieve its 2030 vision for Australian Innovation.

La Trobe Business School dares to Dream Big

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Ordinary Australians who dare to dream big are seeing their hopes become real, thanks to a bold project shaping a better nation for all. The winners of My Big Idea have been revealed– ten plans to address specific challenges facing Australia, submitted by regular people and adopted by leading universities and corporate partners.

One such plan is to deliver dreams specifically focussed on building skills for older Australians wanting to start a small business and to establish a free community group to bring together over 55’s. La Trobe Business School will be incubating the ideas proposed by Doug Jacquier (South Australia) and Steve Oesterreich (NSW), developing concepts of a Seniors Enterprise Centre and Over-55 Start-Up Group.

The concept is to “create employment for over 55’s, rather than seek employment”, said La Trobe Business School’s Professor of Entrepreneurship, Dr Alex Maritz. Federal Minister for Industry, and Science Greg Hunt said My Big Idea was about shaping the future through a nationwide competition. “Innovation and science in particular are fundamental to Australia’s future prosperity and quality of life. It touches all our lives”, he writes. Since start-up activity for over-55’s is the highest growing sector of entrepreneurship in Australia, La Trobe Business School (LBS) is well equipped to meet this challenge, enhancing “active ageing” for this age group, said Professor Maritz. The LBS incubation team add significant value to the project, consisting of Professors, Academics, PhD Candidates, Students and LBS networks. “We have the unique ability to integrate this project into the entrepreneurship courses we offer, as well as the communities in which we engage, notwithstanding our expertise in the development of entrepreneurship and innovation in the greater Melbourne and Victoria northern corridor”, Professor Maritz said.

As noted on the My Big Idea website, “My Big Idea is a non-politically aligned project driven by the Australian Futures Project – a registered charity focused on sourcing and bringing to life some of Australia’s most innovative and inspiring ideas for the country’s future.”

La Trobe Business School will also be hosting a Start-up Bootcamp on 8 October 2016, whereby the incubation team will deliver on the My Big Idea promise to train 500 Australians to be positive change makers!

For more information, contact LBS academic Dr Alex Maritz.

 

La Trobe Business School experts change lives in Papua New Guinea

Emma Sherry La Trobe Business School Papua New Guinea

The NRL-run League Bilong Laif (League for Life) program in Papua New Guinea is positively changing the lives of participants, according to an evaluation by the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University.

Experts from La Trobe recently returned from a visit to PNG to assess the impact of League Bilong Laif, a sport-for-development program that runs in schools and promotes messages about respect and the importance of education for all Papua New Guineans. The program is funded by the Australian government and delivered by a team of Papua New Guinean NRL staff in four regions.

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions”

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions” says NRL Pacific Program Manager John Wilson, who travelled with the La Trobe review team to Port Moresby, Eastern Highlands Province, East New Britain Province, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“The NRL PNG team under the management of Mark Mom are doing a great job. We are building awareness that rugby league is not just a sport through delivering our positive education and respect messages in each community that will ultimately define the future of the program. The team is also delivering the program in sign language to make it more accessible” said Mr Wilson.

In addition, research found that participating in the League Bilong Laif program provides children with an opportunity to engage with education in a meaningful way, and that the program reinforces the message of gender equality through female NRL PNG staff, who are seen as role models and strong women.

Reflecting on his visit, Mr Wilson said PNG was full of great people that were looking for ways to contribute to their communities for a better tomorrow. “League Bilong Laif is a great platform for our staff to give back. In each region that we visited, the staff presented new opportunities for me to explore the cultural and logistical differences that affect the programs we deliver every day,” he said.

The research has found that the impact of the program extends beyond participating children, with preliminary findings suggesting positive change for program staff and broader communities, through partnerships with PNG and international charities, and community outreach programs.

Education specialists have been involved from the initial stages to establish and review the LBL program to ensure quality delivery of the program with desired outcomes. Review team member and sports management specialist Dr. Emma Sherry said they monitor education and gender equality outcomes through surveys and interviews with teachers and NRL PNG staff, stories of change with children, and via in-depth in-country interviews with program funders and key stakeholders.  By utilising these tools, the review team has sought to identify changes in attitude, behaviour and the impact of these on the participants, their school and community.

Dr. Sherry stated that the LBL program had grown exponentially since its inception three years ago, and the success of employing full-time staff, reaching out to dozens of schools, hundreds of teachers and many thousands of children is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the staff in both PNG and Australia.

“During the pilot phase, the program had been refined and is now being replicated across the Pacific [Fiji, Samoa and Tonga] as an example of how to actively engage children and their communities in education” she said.

League Bilong Laif is managed through a three-way partnership between the Australian Government, the PNG Government (represented by the National Department of Education) and the NRL. The program is supported by the Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Education, the PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL), the University of PNG and the PNG National Sports Institute.

This article awas originally published on NRL.com

Australian Suppliers and the Asian export region: Austrade presentation to Marketing students

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At Bundoora campus on 18th September and broadcast to Bendigo and Albury Wodonga campuses, Austrade representative David Jamieson, delivered a presentation to marketing students gathered at the 3 campuses.


Mr Jamieson, who heads up the Food and Beverage section in Austrade, reported on the latest developments and opportunities in food and beverage export markets, in particular, in the Asian region. Asia remains the regional market with the largest potential for Australian food and beverages. He reported on one of the biggest Australian food and beverage export successes in recent years: Australian suppliers are now shipping tens of thousands of litres of fresh milk every week to China, by airfreight, and yet this is only meeting a fraction of Chinese demand. However, Australia’s position as a major high quality food and beverage supplier to the Asian region is under threat due to intense competition from other supplier countries, and in particular, from huge investments in branding by large food and beverage companies like Nestle (Europe), Kraft (the U.S) and Fonterra (New Zealand). The importance of brand development by Australian companies in the Asian region has never been greater. A remarkable feature of some of the more advanced consumer food and beverage markets in Asia, such as Japan, is the increasing use of online mobile shopping. In the picture below, while one passenger waits to board a subway train, a consumer purchases food advertised on the side of that train, using a QR code via his smartphone, for home delivery later that day.


At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr Jamieson and Dr Gilmore engaged with students in a lengthy Q and A session on various aspects of Austrade’s international operations and employment opportunities for students in Austrade.
To find out more about La Trobe Business School’s Department of Marketing and what activities they are planning and opportunities for students, visit their website.


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