Innovation policy in Australia: never a better time? – Melbourne

Few doubt that innovators can reap great returns, but many in the community don’t see themselves as winners.  Others believe that there is not much government can do to affect innovation.

Innovation and Science Australia has just released its plan for Australia’s innovation, science and research system, Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation. The report argues that innovation can make a big difference for all Australians and that there is much government can do to speed it up.

How big is the opportunity for Australia? Who really benefits from rapid innovation? Should policymakers follow ISA’s recommendations? At this Policy Pitch event, a panel that included the authors of the report used these questions to form the basis for an engaging discussion on innovation policy.


Bill Ferris AC is Chair of the Innovation and Science Australia Board. Mr Ferris is a 47-year veteran of private equity in Australasia, founding Australia’s first venture capital firm in 1970. He was the Co-Founder of CHAMP Private Equity and of its predecessor, Australian Mezzanine Investments Pty Ltd (AMIL). Mr Ferris was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1990 for services to the export industry and in 2008 was made Companion in the Order of Australia for his philanthropic activities, as a leader in support of medical research and his role in the establishment of the private equity sector in Australia.

Professor Beth Webster is Director of the Centre for Transformative Innovation and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Impact and Policy at Swinburne University of Technology. Her expertise centres on the economics of the way knowledge is created and diffused through the economy. She has a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge and an M.Ec and B.Ec (hons) from Monash University. Professor Webster is responsible for providing advice and leadership on policies relating to the economic and social impact of research, public industry and innovation policies. She has written over 100 articles on the economics of innovation and firm performance in international economics journals.

Dr Charles Day is CEO of the Office of Innovation and Science Australia (OISA). He brings to the role a broad range of experience gained through a long career in innovation, business development, technology commercialisation, venture capital and start-up creation. Prior to his current role he was the Program Director for the Carlton Connect Initiative, an ambitious project to create Australia’s premier STEM innovation precinct anchored by the University of Melbourne. As CEO, Dr Day leads the Office of Innovation and Science Australia to support the Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) board’s development and implementation of long-term initiatives to boost innovation and science.


Jim Minifie directs the Productivity Growth Program at the Grattan Institute. His research focuses on developing policy to raise Australians’ living standards by improving productivity and accelerating the spread of innovations. The program has produced reports on economic impacts and responses to the mining boom, on boosting net returns from superannuation, on the peer-to-peer economy, and investment and competition in the Australian economy. Prior to joining Grattan in 2012, Jim spent 12 years with the Boston Consulting Group, including seven years as BCG’s Chief Economist for Australia and New Zealand. Jim has honours and masters degrees from Melbourne University and a PhD from Stanford University.