Top companies doubt Australian innovation

2.Top companies doubt Australian innovation

By Stuart Condie

Sydney

(Australian Associated Press)

More than a quarter of Australian companies believe they are highly innovative. They’re just not so sure about everyone else.

NAB’s Survey of Business Innovation in Australia found that 27 per cent of companies considered themselves to be highly innovative, rising to 29 per cent among ASX300 companies.

But those same big companies are the most pessimistic about Australian innovation in general, with just six per cent – about one in 17 – considering the country to be highly innovative.

That compared to 13 per cent among all those surveyed.

The discrepancy does not necessarily mean the companies are overstating their own capacity for innovation, the bank said.

“Australian business does not believe that we are a highly innovative nation. But there is no shortage of firms across all sizes of business that identify themselves as highly innovative,” the survey said.

“This raises the possibility that business may be underestimating the true level of innovation in Australia.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who made millions from internet startup OzEmail in the 1990s, is among the high-profile voices citing the importance of innovation to Australia’s post-resource boom economy.

NAB found that the main motivation for innovation was to drive growth and revenue, although small to medium enterprises also believe it helps differentiate their business, widen their customer base and allow them to manage change and respond to key trends.

Trent Telford, the founder and chief executive of ASX-listed data security firm Covata, said innovation was crucial to Australia’s future as part of the world economy and urged Mr Turnbull to adopt policies to foster it.

Covata listed last year and in March signed a 10-year global licence agreement with IT giant Cisco.

“Australia needs leadership that will give a return on investment for our kids and their kids … that will make us globally relevant beyond mining and agriculture for the next 10 through to 50 years,” Mr Telford told AAP.

“Technology and science is a shining light, but it will take some economic cycles for the benefits to be fully realised.”

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