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Analysis and Comment (53)

Almost anything can be labelled ‘innovation’ - invention is a little harder. Almost anything can be labelled ‘innovation’ - invention is a little harder. Shutterstock

What if we had a ‘National Invention System’?

Australia’s Senate Economics Committee is currently undergoing a review of the National Innovation System in light of the “challenges to Australian industries and jobs posed by increasing global competition…
Australia has improved its global innovation ranking - but future budget could put this progress at risk. Australia has improved its global innovation ranking - but future budget could put this progress at risk. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Australia ranks on innovation – but indolence could cost us

This year’s news on Australia’s global innovation ranking could be a lot worse, and probably will be in the future if the Federal Government gets its way with proposed budget cuts to our already inadequate…
OS X Yosemite will be available this autumn. OS X Yosemite will be available this autumn. Apple

Bumper Apple package brings devices closer than ever

Apple has set developers in a frenzy with an overwhelming spread of software updates, unveiled at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The new releases include updates for its desktop operating system…
One more coffee, then we’ll get our £1m idea. One more coffee, then we’ll get our £1m idea. jisc_infonet

Why universities are the best places to start a business

Creative ideas and how we turn them into successful business ventures and social enterprises are vital to the UK’s global competitiveness. But how do we best support this? Of course there are many different…
Research and development organisations have operated in rural sectors for more than 80 years, helping keep these sectors innovative and competitive. Research and development organisations have operated in rural sectors for more than 80 years, helping keep these sectors innovative and competitive. University of Tasmania

Rural Australia has innovation lessons to teach us all

The word innovation is often associated with banks of computers, not the back paddock. But Australia’s agricultural sector is actually a world leader when it comes to research and development. Calls are…
Science incubator with food. Science incubator with food. EPA

Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

Science has often come to the rescue when it comes to the world’s big problems, be it the Green Revolution that helped avoid mass starvation or the small pox vaccine that eradicated the disease. There…
Most innovations form in a network, with a mixture of local and global ingredients. Most innovations form in a network, with a mixture of local and global ingredients. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Four ways to boost Australian innovation

From the days of the gold rushes, to the banking and mining booms of the last 15 years, Australians have long worried that most of the world’s innovation was happening somewhere else. Did our good fortune…
Working on your creativity. Working on your creativity. Kaptain Kobold

Happy Birthday dear (innovation-killing) web

As we hit our online quarter century it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that technology has been the making of us. But for innovation in tech entrepreneurship it might just be our undoing. Many experts…
JK Shin unveils the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. JK Shin unveils the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. samsungtomorrow

Many phones, little innovation at Mobile World Congress

The Mobile World congress in Barcelona is the largest mobile phone exhibition in the technology calendar and is the place to see the new mobile technologies that will be attempting to claim your money…
“Hi! Is that the 1980s? I’ve got your phone. You can have it back.” “Hi! Is that the 1980s? I’ve got your phone. You can have it back.” Computex e Forum

The three rules that stop a tech device from losing its cool

In the world of hi-tech devices, it is imperative to keep your finger on the pulse. Some of the most successful companies of our times, such as Apple and Google, are those that understand the power of…
Workers with skills and motivation perform at a higher level, regardless of workplace reform. Workers with skills and motivation perform at a higher level, regardless of workplace reform. Salle-Ann/Flickr

Workplace deregulation won’t boost productivity

Arguments for reform of workplace relations never go away. The central claim made by numerous commentators is that reform aimed at “freeing up” the labour market and workplaces is the key to improving…
How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? How many R&D teams does it take to fix a lightbulb? ed_needs_a_bicycle

Business drops the baton in higher ed innovation

There is a tired old mantra that periodically echoes along the corridors of Whitehall. It goes something like: “The UK is great at science but poor at turning it into innovation”. Yet since the Conservative…
Emerging economies like India are pushing ahead on innovation measures, while advanced economies see productivity declines. Emerging economies like India are pushing ahead on innovation measures, while advanced economies see productivity declines. World Bank/Flickr

Demystifying the global productivity puzzle

The Conference Board’s latest productivity measure shows efficiency remains a problem for the global economy - and interestingly that innovation, despite occurring, may not be helping. The business research…
There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. Technology image from www.shutterstock.com

Could Australia ever have its own Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is a bit like the ancient city of Babylon. A confluence of the right geography, right timing, and the right mix in the melting pot allowed them both to thrive. Even the mythological status…
Toyota is the ‘last man standing’ in Australian car manufacturing, but it needs to shift from an ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations. Toyota is the ‘last man standing’ in Australian car manufacturing, but it needs to shift from an ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations. Alan Porritt/AAP

Toyota needs a new approach to avoid the road to nowhere

The Productivity Commission will today release the preliminary report of its inquiry into Australian automotive manufacturing industries, ensuring the future of car manufacturing in Australia continues…
China: “No, thanks. We don’t want a Nobel peace prize.” China: “No, thanks. We don’t want a Nobel peace prize.” andreasl

China isn’t creative enough to win a science Nobel

“China is at the forefront of medicine and hi-tech and computing.” So said UK Chancellor George Osborne, who recently visited the country. Global tests for 15-year-olds show the youth of Shanghai are comfortably…
Grubby, mean and out for your ideas. Patent trolls are on the prowl. Grubby, mean and out for your ideas. Patent trolls are on the prowl. kewl

Tinkering with the law won’t stop patent trolls

For a country that has long been a staunch defender of intellectual property rights, the US has struggled in recent years to get to grips with the menace of a new breed of patent holders, pejoratively…
Luckily, innovation didn’t stop there. Luckily, innovation didn’t stop there. girl_onthe_les

Tech giants' patent wars mean a longer wait for smarter phones

It seems there is no end to the smartphone litigation saga. A long-running US court case just reappraised Samsung’s violation of Apple patents. Apple has now been awarded almost US$930m in the dispute…
More workers are ditching the cubicle for a collaborative coworking space. More workers are ditching the cubicle for a collaborative coworking space. madrideducacion.es/Flickr

Quitting the cubicle farm for coworking

From humble beginnings, the coworking movement has exploded to an estimated 3000 spaces around the world, with hundreds of thousands of people choosing to ditch the home or corporate office in favour of…
Fetch a bucket. Fetch a bucket. Matluba Mukhamedova/World Bank

Water firms' failure to invest stores up problems

There’s been much debate this past month about Britain’s rising gas and electricity bills. Price hikes have followed utility companies' reports of massive increases in profits, such as Scottish Power which…
BlackBerry smartphones, nice but too late. BlackBerry smartphones, nice but too late. Achmad Ibrahim/AP

BlackBerry #fail shows perpetual dilemma of tech innovators

It is now well known that successful companies often have an annoying habit of missing the next big thing. Harvard’s Clayton Christensen coined it the innovator’s dilemma. He also produced advice on how…
It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with it. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with it. Gold image from www.shutterstock.com

Research is useless, innovation is gold

Most agree that it’s worth knowing more about the world and everything in it. Research, in that sense, is intrinsically valuable. But for pragmatic governments, intrinsic scientific or scholarly worth…
Spreading its net wide: Chinese research centre in Antarctica. Spreading its net wide: Chinese research centre in Antarctica. petehottelet

China’s research is taking a leap, UK can take advantage

Two weeks after he was confirmed as the head of the Politburo Standing Committee last year, Xi Jinping led his new committee colleagues on a tightly-choreographed day trip to the National Museum in Tiananmen…
Research shows channeling the best ideas into new products takes a systematic process. Research shows channeling the best ideas into new products takes a systematic process. atomicShed/Flickr

Innovation pays, but only when it’s everyone’s job

Innovation pays, and the benefits are even greater when organisations develop “systematic innovation” capability, according to a recent study by The University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute…
I don’t need one of these, do I? I don’t need one of these, do I? Samsung tomorrow

Scoff now, but you’re probably getting a smartwatch

The tech wars took a major swerve into the leftfield this week. No longer content with updating their phone offerings, companies have come over all James Bond in the hope of hitting upon the next big innovation…
Government funding can be poorly targeted. Government funding can be poorly targeted. PlayStation Europe

State cash for gaming? I’ll stick to Kickstarter, thanks

The UK government’s Technology Strategy Board has announced (and not for the first time) that it’s putting its weight behind the creative media sector, this time by way of a competition designed to encourage…
Prime minister Kevin Rudd, shaking hands with an employee of the Altona Toyota factory in 2008, sees economic productivity as an important issue. Prime minister Kevin Rudd, shaking hands with an employee of the Altona Toyota factory in 2008, sees economic productivity as an important issue. AAP

Election 2013 Issues: the way we work

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles provide in-depth analyses of key policy challenges affecting Australia as the nation heads to the polls. Today…
Research and development election policies are a bit thin on the ground at the moment. Research and development election policies are a bit thin on the ground at the moment. AAP/Science in Public, Paul Phillipson

Coalition, Labor, Greens … seeking a workable research policy

Building the knowledge economy and a national innovation system should be a priority in the upcoming election but, as of today, only the Greens have released a dedicated research and development policy…
EU politicians get to grips with the latest science. EU politicians get to grips with the latest science. European Union, 2013

Using small business to turn science into EU growth

When we think of cutting-edge innovation, we tend to think of big corporations and their latest wheezes: Google Glass, Sony flat screens or Airbus’s newest plane. But small businesses play key roles in…
The urban civilisation drawn to cities innovates and enriches. Even in Melbourne. The urban civilisation drawn to cities innovates and enriches. Even in Melbourne. melburnian/Flickr

In search of a formula with which to build better cities

When Isaac Newton produced his Laws of Motion in 1687, it led to speculation that his new gravitational force could explain the social forces between people. Thinkers put forward various arguments for…
Scientists take to the streets, optimistically. Scientists take to the streets, optimistically. PA

Science is vital, just not in the way you think

The UK government’s spending review is coming up and scientists are worried. They fear that there may be cuts to science funding, which they were able to just about avoid in 2010 after a strong campaign…
Public money can put on a show about the Industrial Revolution, but it can’t start one. Public money can put on a show about the Industrial Revolution, but it can’t start one. Jon Smith

Trust the markets to fund science

There are times when only clichés work. There is a 400-year-old elephant in the science lab and the emperor, frankly, has no clothes. It was in 1605 that Francis Bacon, a British politician and lawyer…
Labor’s jobs package provides its future direction for industry for the first time; but can it deliver, and more importantly, will it survive political opposition? Labor’s jobs package provides its future direction for industry for the first time; but can it deliver, and more importantly, will it survive political opposition? AAP

Planning for a blue-collar Australia: will Labor’s job package deliver?

Labor has finally delivered the detail of its much-awaited vision for shaping Australian industry beyond the mining boom. But will it deliver? In a two part series, UWA Professor Tim Mazzarol examines…
The Gillard government’s Industry and Innovation Statement aims to revive an ailing manufacturing sector and address Australia’s flagging productivity. The Gillard government’s Industry and Innovation Statement aims to revive an ailing manufacturing sector and address Australia’s flagging productivity. AAP

Labor’s innovation plan provides hope for Australian manufacturing

While its launch in the heat of election battle was hardly propitious, the federal government’s new Industry and Innovation Statement, A Plan for Australian Jobs, is the long-awaited result of a serious…
The great stagnation: does faltering innovation spell the end for economic growth? The great stagnation: does faltering innovation spell the end for economic growth? Image from www.shutterstock.com

Fear the no-grow zone: has technological innovation reached its final frontier?

The economic profession lacks a unified theory of economic growth. Textbooks and academic journals contain a plethora of models and paradigms which generate different (and sometimes contradictory) predictions…
China’s growing investment in research and development could leave Australia by the wayside. China’s growing investment in research and development could leave Australia by the wayside. AAP

China’s rise through the R&D ranks provides lessons for Australia

When it comes to innovation, China is not renowned for being cutting-edge; it is better known for adapting existing technology rather than creating its own. Yet, as Xi Jinping stated in his first speech…
The closure of BlueScope’s no 6 Blast Furnace at Port Kembla was an acknowledgement that Australia simply cannot compete with our cheaper Asian rivals. The closure of BlueScope’s no 6 Blast Furnace at Port Kembla was an acknowledgement that Australia simply cannot compete with our cheaper Asian rivals.

Glimmers of hope in the steel industry’s darkest hour

The $1 billion dollar annual loss announced by BlueScope Steel confirmed what is common knowledge: the Australian steel industry is in crisis and fighting for survival. The latest statistics show that…
Manufacturing has a future in Australia - but only if it can reposition itself up the global value chain. Manufacturing has a future in Australia - but only if it can reposition itself up the global value chain.

The blueprint for a smarter Australia starts with manufacturing

Can anything new be said about the future of manufacturing in Australia? Yesterday’s report, Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia submitted yesterday to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is a detailed…
Cuts to the R&D tax incentives for Australian businesses - as proposed by the Business Tax Working Group - have significant implications for our future economic wellbeing. Cuts to the R&D tax incentives for Australian businesses - as proposed by the Business Tax Working Group - have significant implications for our future economic wellbeing. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Scrapping the R&D tax incentive is hardly a smart idea for economic policy

The Business Tax Working Group discussion paper’s suggestion to reduce the R&D tax incentive reveals a clear-cut attitude to policy aimed at Australia’s economic development: “It’s all about the tax…
Ingenious innovation of the ancient world does not cease to amaze. Ingenious innovation of the ancient world does not cease to amaze. Tilemahos Efthimiadis

Antikythera to the SKA: lessons from the ancients

Modern humans may think they are clever, and each generation typically thinks it’s more intelligent than those that came before. Hence, it can be a shock to discover civilisations existing thousands of…
If we’re going to hit our innovation targets, we need to harness growth. If we’re going to hit our innovation targets, we need to harness growth. nyoin

Challenge 14: the road to innovation transformation

In part 14 of our multi-disciplinary Millennium Project series, Stephen McGrail argues that boosting innovation requires us to change our thinking as much as our technology. Global challenge 14: How can…
The future health of Australian manufacturing depends on bridging the gap between research organisations and business. The future health of Australian manufacturing depends on bridging the gap between research organisations and business. AAP

Closing the innovation gap is the key to the survival of manufacturing

As we are only too aware, manufacturing in Australia is currently under a great deal of pressure, operating in a relatively high cost environment, facing significant international competition and taking…
Orchestra of nature: artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has converted pieces of trees into music. Orchestra of nature: artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has converted pieces of trees into music. Eric C Bryan

Forest sonata: listening to the music of the trees

What is the music of trees? German artist Bartholomäus Traubeck spun slices of logs on turntables that translate their textures and annual rings into music. Traubeck calls the result Years, and I played…
In the UK, innovation and research has been at the forefront of the government’s economic policy agenda. In the UK, innovation and research has been at the forefront of the government’s economic policy agenda. bisgovuk

Innovation or stagnation? Lessons Australia could learn from the UK

After decades in the wilderness, industry policy is back centrally on the economic agenda in the UK. What is striking is how the policy is being driven by strong evidence on what works from years of accumulated…
Unveiled: from the fanfare of the new Camry model last year, Toyota has axed 350 jobs this week. Unveiled: from the fanfare of the new Camry model last year, Toyota has axed 350 jobs this week. AAP

It’s technology, stupid: manufacturing’s crucial role in our economy

A week after Toyota announced redundancies at its Altona plant in Melbourne, Holden confirmed the loss of 100 casual jobs at its manufacturing plant in Adelaide. Holden chief Mike Devereux said the cuts…

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