Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, has welcomed the announcement that the government's independent review panel is now calling on industry and the public to put forward their submissions on how to foster a more effective national innovation system.
Headed up by CSIRO and ICT strategy advisor, Dr Terry Cutler, the review panel began its work last month with the intention of examining Australia's innovation system, and drafting a plan to help the government streamline its funding arrangements with industry and R&D bodies.
Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
"The call for submissions presents a rare opportunity for all Australians to put forward their ideas on how we can create a more effective and efficient national innovation system," Senator Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said in a statement.
"It is pleasing to see such rapid progress in a process that has the potential to have a major impact on shaping the future of all Australians. I am looking forward to receiving the review panel's findings when Dr Cutler presents his final report at the end of July," he said.
Richard Harris, research VP and government expert at analyst firm Gartner, said that a unified national innovation approach is a worthy aim, but one that will take a long time to foster, and perhaps may never become a reality.
"In overall terms it does seem to me that the idea of a national innovation system tends to be a bit of a pipe dream," said Harris.
The analyst said that one of the biggest problems the government faces in trying to create such an approach is that the drivers of innovation are notoriously diverse; spread not only between industry and the various levels of government, but the research and education sectors as well.
"As always with innovation there's a lot to cover, any committee can't do much other than try to bring together some key principles around which policy decisions can be made, I think what they can do here is try to see if they can iron out some of the overlaps and anachronisms in the system," he said.
"In effect it's also asking the information industry where it could also take a more creative approach in helping the government solve some of these problems," said the analyst.
Dr Terry Cutler, who chairs the innovation review panel, said in a statement that one of its key aims was to look at how "innovative capabilities" could be mobilised to attack major national challenges such as climate change, population health and future energy needs, adding that Australia's position as a relatively small economy required an idiosyncratic strategy for innovation.
On announcing the commencement of the panels review last month, Senator Carr said it was important for the panel to find a way to cut down funding duplication amidst "the bewildering array of government innovation and industry assistance programs".
"There has been a tendency for previous governments to use [innovation policy] as some kind of political play thing, or just try to back an easy winner in many cases. I know there have been cases in the tech industry -- as with many others -- where ministers have been lobbied by certain people and have been deemed to have given special attention to them," said Gartner's Harris.
"But I think what's being done now is trying to address some important policy issues, and is a sign that they are genuinely trying to open up the scene again," he added.