Australia jumps ranks on global GE innovation report

Australians are more optimistic than most nations about their country’s innovation potential, according to a GE report which reveals the country moved up three spots to 13th in the global innovation ranks.

Despite the jump, Australia still trails countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan.

The independent GE Innovation Barometer Report surveyed 3,100 senior business executives in 25 countries, including 100 respondents in Australia.

GE found the majority of Australian executives believed Australia’s innovation framework encouraged innovation: 67% per cent of Australian executives surveyed said they believed the Australian market is strongly “innovation conducive”.

Only 52% of global respondents thought so, indicating Australia’s perception of its innovation capacity exceeds global perceptions.

This time last year the GE survey found 31% of the 100 Australian businessmen felt the innovation environment had not improved over the past five years.

The report also found the majority of Australian business leaders thought Australia was struggling to commercialise new products and innovation, and access to public funding for innovation needed to be simplified.

Almost half of Australian business leaders said mining data inside and outside the company and developing their ability to leverage that data was a strategic priority.

Despite Australians’ greater appreciation of the need to innovate, Roy Green,  the dean of the University of Technology Sydney business school, says Australian businesses are good at integrating new innovative technologies, but struggle to develop their own.

“We’re definitely in the fast follower camp and we’re quite good at technology absorption.

“Locally we have a very strong science and technology community, but have a lot of trouble commercialising ideas in the market place compared to other countries.

“We’re not so good at originating ideas,” Green says.

He says Australia’s other problem lies in the venture capital market.

“Our venture capital market is not as highly developed as other countries.

“You don’t have to be as big a country as the US to have a strong capital market. There are many smaller countries that make capital available, for example, Israel, Finland and Singapore.

“You have to ask a question about the role of our huge managed funds industry and the regulations governing their investments if new technologies, designs and approaches are seen as too risky in the context of their obligations,” Green says.

Just under 90% per cent of Australian respondents said the country’s financial environment should be more open to venture capital, 12 points higher than the global average.

This article was first published on SmartCompany.

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