Monday, September 15, 2008

Review of Australia's National Innovation System

Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, has released the Green Paper report of the expert panel on Australia's national innovation system. The Minister has announced the Government will release a white paper in response by the end of 2008. Unfortunately the report has been provided in a difficult to read format and so is of little value. This appears to have been done deliberately to impede analysis of the report.

Unfortunately the report of the Review has the clumsy title of "venturousaustralia - building strength in innovation". The contraction "venturousaustralia" looks like a misprint and is hard to make sense of ("VenturousAustralia" or "Venturous Australia" would have been better). This perhaps indicates the major problem with the Australian approach to innovation: trying to be too cleaver for our own good.

The panel have provided

  1. Report overview and recommendations (1MB of PDF)
  2. Full report: venturousaustralia - building strength in innovation (3MB of PDF)

There are also assorted media releases and transcripts from the launch. Unfortunately little thought seems to have gone into making this information available in an easy to understand and systematic way. This also seems to be a common proble with the Australia approach to innovation: assuming that a clear idea is self explanatory.

There is no list of the reports main recommendations provided on the web page and the detailed report is offered to the reader, followed by the smaller, but still too large overview. This material is then followed by a list of annexes, but the reader is given little idea what is in the annexes, as they are labeled 4 to 12 (what happened to 1 to 3?).

It is a shame that a lot of work by some very cleaver people has been largely wasted. Normally I would extract the summary of recommendations from the PDF of the report and convert them to text format for easy access. However in this case this is not possible as the security features of the PDF document have been set to block copying of text from the document. This is occasionally done with company documents to impede those attempting to misuse intellectual property. However, it is difficult to see why this was done in a government report, other than an attempt to make it difficult to disseminate the information and carry out a detailed analysis of the report. It would appear that the report's authors do not want the report looked at in detail.

I suggest that the Minister reject the report and begin the process again using a new panel. There is nothing to be learnt from this report, apart from how not to do a report on innovation.

The ACT Government also commissioned a Report on the ACT Innovation System, which is available online.

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