‘The implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), a process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.’
Innovation is important to every sector of our economy - from technology to healthcare, education to agriculture, and defence to transport. Innovation keeps us competitive, and at the cutting edge. It creates jobs and will keep our standard of living high.
Australia earns only a relatively modest proportion of its total income from the sale of innovative goods and services compared to other OECD countries. We rank 23rd on the 2017 Global Innovation Index (down from 19th in 2016) behind Singapore, China, Israel, France, Norway and New Zealand, among others. What’s interesting is that we rank 12th in the Innovation Input Sub-Index and 30th on the Innovation Output Sub-Index, which indicates that we’re putting a lot into innovation but aren’t getting much in return.
Source: ABS (2016) Innovation in Australian Business 2014–15
While high commodity prices have driven the growth in our living standards over the last decade, fostering innovation and commercialising ideas will be a key driver of future jobs and growth. In our Smart Disruption report, we learned that to survive and thrive in an era of digital disruption we need to create ambidextrous, customer-centric organisations that can deliver on the needs of today while innovating for the future.
Dr Charlie Day, CEO of Australia’s flagship innovation organisation, Innovation and Science Australia, believes Australia can be a world leader in innovation if we build the right skills and entrepreneurial culture.
“It's about approaching problems in a new way and delivering real-world benefits,” he says.
“It can mean tackling perhaps a medical disease or a traffic problem or some way of getting from A to B more effectively and doing that in a way that people will value.”
The importance of innovation to the future prosperity of our country is highlighted in the Australian Government’s National Innovation Agenda, designed to ‘drive smart ideas that create business growth, local jobs and global success’. The Agenda consists of four key pillars that provide a framework for Australian innovation policy.
Source: Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016
Each of these pillars is critical, however, I’d like to take a moment to focus on the second one - collaboration.
Collaboration can seem like a bit of a buzzword nowadays, but this is for good reason. Success in today’s economy demands a culture of partnering with purpose. By creating an environment where learnings are shared, organisations will be better prepared to respond to - and anticipate – change.
This enables them to stand in good stead in the face of disruption, optimise operations, as well as explore other potential avenues for growth.
At Optus, collaboration delivers results time and time again.
These are just a few of the key ways we collaborate with customers, academia, and startups.
Before we commence anything, we determine desirability through customer feedback, customer involvement, and validation at workshops such as those in our co-creation environment, ThinkSpace.
We’ve partnered with a number of universities and schools across the country, investing in several joint cyber security programs including:
- A co-investment of $10 million with Macquarie University to establish a multi-disciplinary Cyber Security Hub to tackle Australia’s cyber skills shortage.
- An $8 million partnership with La Trobe University to establish an industry-focused cyber curriculum.
- The Optus Digital Thumbprint education program in Australian schools, which focusses on developing cyber aware online users.
We partner with Stone & Chalk - a Sydney-based, not-for-profit Innovation Centre - to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the Australian fintech sector and support local startups.
Learn more about innovation and collaboration in our report - Smart Disruption: A perspective on innovation for Australian organisations
Collaboration is both an art and a science, and it takes time, patience and commitment. Businesses - large and small - need to get on board and play their part in helping Australia become a leading innovation nation. By partnering with purpose we can ensure that we have the right skills, culture, and leadership in place to bring our ideas to life. We need to harness the changes that arise from disruption to our shared advantage. To yield the next wave of opportunities, we need to work together.
Do you agree?
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