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Australian spirit of innovation soaring.

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17 February 2005


Australia’s reputation as a ‘clever country’ has been confirmed with today’s release of an innovation survey which shows Australia has recorded a higher involvement in business innovation than almost all EU countries including the United Kingdom.

According to the ABS Innovation in Australian Business 2003 survey, more than one-third of all Australian businesses engaged in innovation over the three years to 2003, spending $20 billion on innovation activity.

“This new survey gives us the clearest picture yet of the Australian business investment in innovation and shows up the notion that investment in R&D is the best indicator of innovation - it is not,” said Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane.

“Of the $20 billion spent on innovation, $7 billion went into R&D and $13 billion into non-R&D innovation activity. This highlights the fact that a majority of innovation is actually occurring later in the production cycle not at the ‘invention’ stage.”

The main findings from the survey are: • Australia ranks 7th against European countries for the proportion of businesses innovating - we are ahead of countries including the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Sweden; • 35% of Australian businesses were engaged in innovation activities during

the three years ending December 2003; • 61% of businesses employing 100 people or more were innovating businesses; • The majority of innovating businesses are in NSW and Victoria although

South Australia has the highest proportion of its businesses undertaking innovation; • On a sectoral level, the industries with the most innovative businesses are communication services, electricity, gas and water supply and

manufacturing; • Australian businesses spent around $20 billion in 2002-03 on innovation activities. Of this, around $7 billion was spent on research and development

(R&D) and $13 billion on non-R&D innovation.

“It’s a Labor-propelled myth that innovation can only be bred in the laboratory and is best measured against specific R&D targets, innovation is a much broader field.”

“We should be proud of the innate Australian ability to improve, rebuild or re-jig because, as this survey confirms, we remain a nation of innovators,” he said.