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Developing an innovation industry in Australia


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With the economic and social realities that propelled Australia to where it is today continuing to diminish, it is imperative that an innovation industry is established. Engineers can contribute immensely in this paradigm shift by looking at balance as a key element of their creativity. Aurecon’s Chief Innovation Office, John McGuire, showcases how engineers can harness the vital element of their discipline to inject innovation and creativity into their practice.

Published in: Engineering

Developing an innovation industry in Australia

  1. 1. Developing an innovation industry in Australia
  2. 2. Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at an average rate of 3.3 per cent over 15 years. This has enabled the lifestyles that people have become accustomed to. The engineering sector has played an integral role in bringing Australia to where it is today.
  3. 3. The paradigms that allowed Australia to prosper are rapidly being disrupted: There is also a greater need to innovate in the digital landscape. Trends reveal an aging population and a shrinking taxation base. Australia’s economy is shifting from resource-based to service-driven.
  4. 4. To help address this, it is imperative that Australia develops an innovation industry. Importantly, engineers must once again become catalysts of innovative research and development.
  5. 5. Key elements that can help facilitate an innovation industry in Australia are: NATURAL ASSETS This could be geographic location, mineral reserves and climate. Australia is in close proximity to one of the world’s largest markets.
  6. 6. EDUCATION Australia has an advanced education system, ensuring a skilled population. Key elements that can help facilitate an innovation industry in Australia are:
  7. 7. INFRASTRUCTURE Efficient infrastructure is needed for trade and commerce to flourish. Australia has good infrastructure, but it is under pressure in many locations as a result of population growth and urbanisation. Key elements that can help facilitate an innovation industry in Australia are:
  8. 8. But what else does Australia need to ensure an innovation industry? An innovation culture and a management mindset. We have to recognise that it is people who innovate, not companies. It is the people within companies who can innovate if they are permitted and encouraged to do so.
  9. 9. ”Without a highly creative and deeply innovative profession, creating an innovation industry in Australia will be much harder. ” John Mcguire Chief Innovation Officer, Aurecon It is vital for engineers to create an innovation mindset - a culture that promotes and nurtures innovation. We must have an environment in which innovation occurs.
  10. 10. Interestingly a study reveals that Australian businesses perform poorly in people leading, managing and nurturing a creative and innovative workforce. Australia excelled in the Operations and Performance categories - productivity, efficiency, utilisation and delivery. However it scored poorly in people leading, managing and nurturing a creative and innovative workforce. Source: Green, R. Agarwal. R, Van, Reenen, J, Bloom, N, Matthews, J, Boedker, C, Sampson, D, Gollan, P, Toner, P, Tan, H, Randhawa, K & Brown, P. (2009). Management Matters in Australia: Just how productive are we? Report for Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, Canberra
  11. 11. The key elements of innovation include collaboration, diversity, experimentation and prototyping. Lesser known elements include: Creative confidence – an ability to challenge (and even redesign) paradigms Selfless behaviour – a willingness to contribute ‘my knowledge’ to reach a common goal Storytelling prowess – an ability to tell a story about where we are going / how we’ll get there Engineers must be highly creative
  12. 12. Unfortunately, these attributes are not taught in engineering schools which specialise in analytics – not creativity.
  13. 13. OUR CURRENT REALITY It has been estimated that by 2050 over two- thirds of the global population will have relocated to cities in search of better infrastructure, service and jobs.
  14. 14. This trend leads to congestion, pollution, deteriorating wellness, aggravated demands on power and water networks as well as other facilities.
  15. 15. The world has reached a tipping point and engineers can play a crucial role in restoring balance. Autonomous vehicles, for example, will positively impact congestion. Electric vehicles powered from renewable resources will reduce pollution.
  16. 16. Engineers understand balance This understanding can be utilised to facilitate the innovation needed to turn the dial on impossible challenges.
  17. 17. Engineers must be at the forefront of solving challenges If infrastructure is the vehicle for economic growth, then its performance will impact national progression.
  18. 18. Engineers are connectors of knowledge Engineers must become the storytellers of their own projects. They must be able to communicate in ways that show the benefits and advantages of their role. We must be the connectors of knowledge in the eco systems.
  19. 19. Without an innovation culture pulsing through the veins of engineers, we have a lesser chance of building an innovative nation.
  20. 20. Follow us on Join us on Watch us on Follow us on Follow us on Follow us on John McGuire Chief Innovation Officer, Aurecon +61 8 6145 9467 Contact: Read more on our website!