Australia has moved up two places on the 2014 Global Innovation Index (GII) and recorded the top ranking for trade and competition.
The GII measures how economies are supporting innovation. This year the index covered 143 economies with Australia improving its overall ranking by two places, moving from 19 to 17 on the index. Australia had an overall ranking of 21 in 2011.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane launched the 2014 GII in Sydney at the B20 alongside the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Francis Gurry. The in-depth report assesses the performance of world economies across a range of different innovation indicators, including Australia.
Australia performed well in a range of areas, coming in seventh in the tertiary education category, eighth in the research and development category and ninth in the general infrastructure category. It topped the index in the trade and competition category. Last year, Australia was ranked 5th in this category.
Mr Macfarlane said the Australian economy increasingly relied on “innovation intensive high valued added export orientated industries”.
“This economic shift requires us more than ever before and particularly now to draw on the strength of our skilled workforce and research knowhow to boost innovation and competitiveness and support our economic prosperity,” he said.
Mr Macfarlane said that Australian businesses that innovated were three times more likely to export and 18 more times more likely to increase the number of export markets targeted when compared to those that did not innovate.
However, he said challenges remained particularly in strengthening the connections between science/research initiatives and industry. He also talked-up the benefits of the new $484 million Entrepreneur Infrastructure Programme unveiled in the recent budget aimed at supporting the commercialisation of innovative concepts.
This package had initially attracted criticism as it axed several other programs that helped Australia’s start-up sector, including Enterprise Connect, Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation Investment Fund.
But Mr Macfarlane today said the initiative would grant researchers and innovators the chance to “re-engineer” business operations, products and services. He said this would provide a “springboard” for the next wave of entrepreneurship.
“Our continued success as a nation depends on how we can translate our research and innovative thinking into practical day-to-day life applications,” he said.
Dr Gurry said that innovation was the key to economic success. He said 27 per cent of global economic output now came from knowledge intensive industries and that $1.6 trillion (US) was invested in knowledge creation each year.
The Global Innovation Index has been published each year since 2007. The top ten performers on the index this year were Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, the US, Singapore, Denmark, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.