Australia's innovation future will be inspired by Israel and Asia, but it will have to find its own policy pathways to unlock creativity in the new digital era
By Louise Mao, Asia Society Australia
On 27 November 2015, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Asia Society Australia, presented a major business briefing on Australia’s path towards an innovation culture.
The briefing was moderated by Warwick Smith, Chairman of Asia Society Australia and coincided with the Israeli Chief Scientist Avi Hasson’s visit to Australia for discussions with the Turnbull government on a new innovation strategy. He was joined by The Hon. Wyatt Roy, Federal Assistant Minister for Innovation, and Marita Cheng, Founder of Robogals and 2012 Young Australian of the Year, both of whom had returned recently from a Trade Mission to Israel.
“The government needs to be at the forefront of innovation,” said Wyatt, who emphasised a need to drive collaboration between the government and private sector in order to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. Australia needs to establish a framework that rewards opportunity-takers and allows for failure if both an innovation culture and ‘start-up ecosystem’ are to flourish.
“This is the century of Asia in more than one way,” said Avi, who suggested that Australia should drive bilateral partnerships in technology and innovation, especially with its neighbours in Asia, as Israel is doing now. Japan, China, Korea, India, Indonesia and Singapore are already major centres of technological revolution and it is wrong to assume collaboration is a zero-sum game.
Marita (participating in the briefing via one of her robots) emphasised the importance of education and the need to encourage children, especially girls, to take an interest in science and innovation at an early age. The cultural fundamentals of innovation are vastly different in Asia and ultimately, Australia’s success as an innovative nation is equally as dependent on the skills of its citizens as it is on increased collaboration between domestic and global actors.
Overall, there needs to be greater government input, as well as enhanced global connectivity in order for Australia to reach a level of competitiveness and ultimately insert itself into the already existing tech triangle between Asia, Israel the U.S. “The Asia vertical is where Australia wants to be,” concluded Warwick Smith.
This event is the first in the new programming series by the Asia Society Australia focussing on Asia's innovation and technological renaissance and its impact on Australia and the world.
The event was presented by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Asia Society Australia and was sponsored by Optus.