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Business, universities and research institutions unite to ensure Australia’s future as the clever country

Release Date: 17/07/2014
How to better connect researchers and business people is the central plank of a new report by the Sydney Business Chamber, launched today in Sydney.
The Industry-Research Collaboration report, co-authored by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), provides practical recommendations to arrest Australia’s declining rate of productivity growth by better harnessing Australia’s considerable research expertise, and the $30 billion spend on R&D annually.
The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane joined President and CEO of GE Healthcare Mr Michael Ackland, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney, Professor Scott Holmes, and Mr Manoj Santiago, Partner at PwC, along with 100 leaders from industry, academia and the government sector for the launch, to discuss ways to leverage Australia’s considerable research expertise to solve critical industry problems, and to create the products and services of the future.
The Thinking Business: Industry-Research Collaboration Report identifies measures to overcome systemic and cultural barriers that have inhibited Australian research converting into commercial success and that by improving and incentivising collaborations between industry and the research sector, Australian industries can better compete in the global market.
Recommendations include:
  • Linking funding for research organisations and individual researchers to the demonstration of social and commercial outcomes;
  • The creation and facilitation of a ‘marketplace’ for research expertise;
  • Getting researchers ‘business ready’ and businesses ‘research ready’;
  • A simplified approach to intellectual property transfer for short term collaboration;
  • ‘Good Practice forums’ for university corporate engagement and collaboration; and
  • Increasing meaningful engagement between industry and universities.
“Australia punches well above its weight when it comes to the production of research. In fields such as medical research and agriculture, the world comes to us for ideas and solutions,” said Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber.
“Despite this obvious advantage, we fail to convert this expertise into commercial outcomes.”
“Australia places last in the OECD in terms of business and university research collaboration and, according to the 2013 Global Innovation Index, 32nd in terms of converting research into innovation and commercial outcomes. That’s just not good enough, and questions have to be asked as to why this is the case.”
“When you look overseas, collaborative R&D has been the engine for economic growth. In the US collaborative R&D has been the foundation for trillions of dollars in wealth creation and responsible for the establishment of global brands such as Google and Hewlett-Packard.”
“We need to stop Australia’s brain drain, where our researchers with the know-how feel obliged to go overseas to commercialise.”
“The Sydney Business Chamber has undertaken this important piece of work in recognition of the absolute importance of effective collaboration between academia and the business community and especially collaboration initiated by businesspeople,” Mrs Forsythe said.
"There is a desire by businesses and researchers to engage in substantial collaboration, yet this desire has not translated into action,” said Alister Berkeley, Principal at PwC.
“Only a clear vision with a feasible roadmap and commitment from all stakeholders will ensure success. This is why we consulted with more than 100 stakeholders to develop  practical recommendations that can help drive the momentum required to change embedded behaviours,” he added.
Michael Ackland, CEO and President of GE Healthcare A&NZ said his company has always understood the importance of technological innovation and research.
“Recently, we’ve taken steps to develop strong partnerships with Research Institutions such as South Australian Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) that aim to help address current and future healthcare challenges.
“Australia’s credentials in the research space are well known, the challenge and opportunity is closing the gap to ensure we can collaborate on projects that have mutually beneficial outcomes,” he said.
This report is part of a longer term action project led by the Sydney Business Chamber to recommend and take practical action to accelerate productivity growth by encouraging more businesses to more often look to researchers to help add value to products and services.  It is part of NSW Business Chamber’s Thinking Business Program. 
The full Report can be found at
Media contact: Patricia Forsythe 0418 165 466 

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