The Australian Innovation Festival has kicked off its month-long showcase of new thinking by arguing that innovation is important for short-term economic gain, rather than longer-term research and development.
The not-for-profit festival, now in its 11th year, will run until the end of May, with an anticipated 400,000 participants attending more than 500 events across Australia.
The theme for this year’s event is “Creating the knowledge economy”, with festival organisers stating: “Many people equate the term ‘innovation’ with having a long term R&D perspective, but of limited relevance to immediate business needs”.
“More than ever, organisations need to ‘innovate’ to meet the challenge of increased competition and ever changing consumer and market needs.”
“Innovation has a central role as the primary catalyst in building sustainable growth for any organisation.”
The festival, which is supported by industry, government and the education sector, features events such as business plan competitions, workshops on how to conduct business overseas and lectures from leading entrepreneurs.
Start-ups are also set to benefit from a series of networking and technology showcase opportunities, across all states and territories.
The festival was kicked off on Thursday, World IP Day, with a speech by Kim Carr, who was recently deposed as federal innovation minister.
Carr, who is now human services minister, said: “…I recall in previous times some of you said to me, ‘Carr you talk a lot about innovation, and you talk a lot about the importance of it to the economy and the transformation of our society, but you talk little about innovation in services’.”
“Well virtue comes of course out of necessity. I am now in a position where that is about all I talk about.”
“It has highlighted to me an area in which we need to put more attention, in terms of our public debate.”
“I remain committed, as you are, to the building of a knowledge economy; to the transformation of this society. And we used to talk about the need to transform our society firm by firm – to actually allow us, as a country to develop something new: to build anew.”
“To ensure that we are as a people able to develop a richer, fairer, and greener Australia.”
“Of course, what I’ve understood more clearly is that if we are to talk about the culture of innovation that has to actually apply to everyone.”
“So I ask you in your deliberations [to] think carefully. Think carefully about what the consequences are of change that occurs without attention to the capacity to actually apply that change to everyone.”