Open Innovation

Kristin: While my last post prompted comments on price and access, Steven Collins (@trib) has posted a blog on the article in the Australian, which says that ‘Minister Kim Carr today will flag the possibility that researchers who win grants from public funding agencies will have to make their results freely available over the internet’. Carr is quoted as saying ‘If we are serious about boosting innovation, we have to get knowledge and information flowing freely’. It’s interesting to reflect that on a recent scenarios project we did (this year), one of the groups identified ‘dismantling of the IP system’ as key to ensuring their region was adaptable and innovative enough to cope with the coming threats of climate change, food security and polluting energy / transport systems.  At the time, they were mocked criticized considered as being unrealistic, but this philosophical shift towards open access reflects their desires. Open access has been a recurring theme in the conversations I’ve had about this review. Is it one of the fundamentals we need to get right?


  1. I agree with the comment that ‘results should be freely available’…

    My understanding of the aims of government research centres is – “to perform R&D with outcomes that can be used by Australian SME’s”.

    Some background:
    Australian SME’s collect GST that goes into the Federal gov budget – 10% of top line revenue straight to gov.

    SME’s then pay the wages of staff to try and understand the ‘filtered’ messages of innovation and technology coming from government funded research centres (NICTA, CSIRO, etc). When SME staff are investigating government research they are not earning – no revenue add – only more expenses added.

    If an SME finds something interesting they then need to engage the government research team – more $ and time at the SME’s expense.

    If the SME decides to take the entrepreneurial capital risk on said ‘innovation’ – the government research centre then asks the SME for $. This seems a bit odd as they have already used taxes to fund the research that was paid for by the Australian people and SME’s and they can’t do anything with it anyway – as they are not in business.

    The end result – very little government innovation gets commercialised because it is just too expense and time consuming for SME’s to engage.

    Free would be great – however I don’t think it would work because…

    Academic’s progress their careers by publishing into exclusive journals (IEEE etc). Such journals generally only allow original work so as to maintain their prestige. Therefore if the government researches are forced to publish openly they cannot publish into journals. Therefore the top researches will leave government research and return to university sector or leave Australia for positions at overseas universities – the famous brain drain problem.

    The end result as I see it – government research is nice and benefits the Australian economy by maintaining the skill levels of a set (maybe 1000+?) of engineers and scientists that are geographically located within Australian boarders. Such a set, could not been maintained by a free economy without government involvement. The defence industry performs similar. The skills and knowledge are then ‘diffused’ into the Australian economy by staff leaving government research and entering Australian SME’s and then – Ba-da bing – innovation. 🙂

    Sorry for long comment – just trying to add to the conversation 🙂

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