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LBS event providing opportunities for Latrobe Lifeskills participants

LBS recently organised the highly successful Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum (#18IFAF) in collaboration with NORTHLink. Besides providing interesting masterclasses and insightful presentations and key notes, the event also provided work experience for two participants from Latrobe Lifeskills.

Latrobe Lifeskills

Latrobe Lifeskills provides support to people with disability. They are a Registered Training Organisation (TOID 20791) that provides nationally recognised courses and community engagement activities for young people living with disability. Participants of Latrobe Lifeskills engage in meaningful activities and relationships, whilst participating as fully as possible at La Trobe University and the broader community.

Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum

During #18IFAF, Vasi and Jackson, were given the opportunity to assist with packing delegate bags, preparing delegate name badges and lanyards. Both participants greeted people as they arrived on registration day, handed out delegate bags and name badges/lanyards.

According to Tammy Matthews-Prosser, Latrobe Lifeskills Participant Support Manager, these opportunities are invaluable to participants as they offer genuine experience in an employment and community setting.

“Vasi and Jackson grew with confidence and pride wearing their La Trobe Business School t-shirts with the opportunity to meet and greet delegates. They were diligent, efficient, friendly and great ambassadors for both Latrobe Lifeskills and La Trobe University”. – Tammy Matthews-Prosser.

Vasi and Jackson were supported by LTU staff and student ambassadors

LBS Innovation Series – Is Australia prepared?

Professor of Practice in economics at LBS, Dr Mark Cloney, asks: what are the key drivers of innovation, disruption and opportunity in the global food production and agribusiness sectors? And why have the Dutch got it so right?

Changing consumer demand, particularly in Asia, corporatisation of farming, automation on farms and in processing, agtech and advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), digitalisation of supply chains, agricultural science advances, and the emergence of vertical farming are just some of the drivers changing the dynamics of the global food production and agribusiness[1].

The Netherlands

Are Australia’s food producers and agribusiness well-informed and placed to understand these challenges and to gain from the opportunities they offer? Countries like The Netherlands certainly are[2]. Despite its relative size, the Dutch are the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products at $158 billion, or three times Australia’s exports[3]. Together with the USA and Spain, The Netherlands is one of the world’s three leading producers of vegetables and fruit supplying a quarter of the vegetables that are exported from Europe. Why? The Dutch are forward-looking, highly innovative and collaborative and have achieved worldwide recognition for their research, infrastructure and innovation systems. For example, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) is the number 1 agricultural university in the world for the third year in a row according to The National Taiwan Ranking of over 300 universities; while, 5 of the top 26 global agri-food companies have R&D facilities in The Netherlands[4].

Australia

So where does Australia stand in comparison? Nationally, the food and agribusiness sector employed approximately 522,000 persons and there were approximately 178,500 businesses trading in the sector (as at June 2015). According to the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda[5], food production and agribusiness are areas of competitive strength for Australia. Australia’s food and agribusiness sector includes food-related agricultural production, food processing and the major inputs to these activities. This includes: food products, processing and beverage manufacturing as well as key inputs; and, agribusiness that relates directly to food production and their supply chains.

La Trobe’s AgriBio Centre

La Trobe University has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping Australia create a vibrant future for those involved in the production of food, fibre and agribusiness. La Trobe plays its role in building human capital and undertaking R&D and scientific research that supports the food and agribusiness innovation system. For example, La Trobe’s AgriBio Centre brings together world-class research in the largest agricultural R&D organisation in Victoria. La Trobe recently announced funding of $50 million for its new La Trobe Institute for Agriculture and Food focused on solutions for global food security.  La Trobe is also a founding member and financial contributor to Melbourne’s Northern Food Group a partnership with the Victorian government, 5 local governments, 4 tertiary institutes, Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Innovation Centre, and the Melbourne Market Authority among others.

LBS/NORTHLink Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum

So how can Australia’s food producers and agribusiness prepare themselves against ever increasing disruption, and better collaborate with world class researchers and scientists in this field? These are some of the questions being explored at the Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum organised by LBS in partnership with NORTHLink. The focus of the Forum is on hearing from industry speakers of successful innovation in the food production and agribusiness sector. It will present industry and government perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation in this sector, particularly for SMEs and start-ups operating in a global context.

In particular, the Forum offers an opportunity to explore how we create the right collaborative partnerships and environment for food production and agribusiness to succeed globally in an era of increased disruption. Maybe we just need some Dutch courage!

 

References:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

Innovate or Perish! – Australia’s Innovation System


For more information on the forthcoming LBS Northlink National Innovation Forum, see the conference website. Early Bird tickets available until 31 August 2017.

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice, Economics

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice, Economics

LBS 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.

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 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 startup 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).

However,  the health of Australia’s innovation system remains subject to conjecture and contrasting opinions with, for example, Australia 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). 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 poor 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). Moreover, 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.

Concerns over the performance of Australia’s innovation system caused the Federal 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.

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?

LBS in partnership with NORTH Link is exploring these questions at its National Innovation Forum to be held over September 28 – 29, 2017 at its Bundoora Campus. The Forum offers a unique opportunity not only to hear from recognised national and international thinkers and business leaders on the topic of innovation and university-business collaboration but to also engage with them in Q&A. Two of the speakers, Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, chief economist at IP Australia, and Dr Charles Day, CEO of Office of Innovation and Science Australia, will explore the current health of Australia’s innovation system in some detail. The Forum also presents industry and academic perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation through university-industry interactions and engagement, particularly for startups and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) through the use of business accelerators and incubators.

The Forum will no doubt provide new insights on whether Australia’s innovation glass is indeed half full or half empty.

References:

Commonwealth of Australia (2015), National Innovation & Science Agenda: Welcome to the Ideas Boom, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO (2017), The Global Innovation Index 2017: Innovation Feeding the World, Ithaca, Fontainebleau, and Geneva.

IP Australia (2017), Australian Intellectual Property Report 2017, Commonwealth of Australia (https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-report-2017).

OECD (2015), OECD Innovation Strategy 2015: An Agenda for Policy Action, October 2015.

Universities Australia (2017), Startup Smarts: Universities and the Startups Economy, University Australia, March, universitiesaustralia.edu.au

National innovation forum: Innovate or Perish?

In a world that is more connected than ever, how can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits? All with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem.

The missing ingredient to growth is the ability to think outside the box – to innovate. For many businesses’ it’s safer inside the box. But when you’re constricted by the four walls of a box you can’t truly grow.

The demands of day to day operations of many SMEs and not-for-profits exclude them from maximising the benefits of innovative. Most are doing everything they can to maximise profits or fundraising, and minimise costs.

Universities, on the other hand, exist outside the normal parameters that can inhibit business growth. As such Universities have the potential to break the walls of the box, let in the light and build the links to create innovative businesses.

This is why, as a nation, Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. Such is the need for stronger connections the Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015.

The core principle of the government’s agenda is to make a substantial difference in the numbers of university-industry collaborations. The reason is simple; such alliances have become a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, dealing with the speed of transformation, and economic and technological disruption.

These partnerships allow a business to break free of the confines of everyday operation, and to work with universities to translate ideas into commercial realities.

While Australia lags behind the world in translating research into commercial outcomes university-industry partnerships internationally are being exploited to great effect.

While Australian universities are among the world’s best, when it comes to innovation it’s important to make sure that research, innovation and business are connected. If research is irrelevant to startups, SMEs and not-for-profits it becomes a purely academic exercise.

At the forum international and national business and academic speakers will present case studies of successful university-industry collaboration including examples of business innovation, incubators and accelerators.

Attendees will not only learn what has worked but they will also discover what can be done to improve university-industry interactions and engagement, particularly for startups and SMEs in the Australian context.

A multitude of speakers with wide ranging backgrounds and experience will speak at the conference.

Major themes

  • The role of incubators, accelerators and TTOs (Technology Transfer Offices) in engaging startups and SMEs while at the same time connecting those start up and SMEs with university-industry innovation.
  • Global forces shaping opportunities for business (including startups and SMEs) over the coming decade
  • Business perspectives on the opportunities and barriers to university-industry collaboration.
  • Developing environments where innovation can thrive.
  • Regulation and legal framework (patent law, licensing, federal and state jurisdictions and university policies).
  • The economic, political and societal framework in which business and/or universities operate (incentives, competitiveness, regulation, competition policy, innovation and technology policy).

Sessions include

  • Conference evening event with a key note speaker and networking opportunities.
  • International and national academic speakers and case studies on successful approaches to university –industry collaboration with a focus on startups and SMEs. Questions answered will include; what has worked and why? What can be learned from mistakes? What needs to change?
  • Australian business leaders’ perspectives on global challenges and opportunities for innovation and improving industry-university collaboration.
  • The state of Australia’s national innovation system – Australian government perspective, frameworks, opportunities, incentives and challenges.
  • Master Classes on frugal innovation; design thinking and lean start-up principles; and, data analytics and business transformation.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday 27 (afternoon) and all-day Thursday 28 September 2017

Where: La Trobe Business School, located at the Donald Whitehead Building, La Trobe Melbourne Campus, Bundoora Victoria

Register: Please register via this link.

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