Australia was recently ranked as the 93rd most sophisticated economy in the world, despite being the 8th richest country in the world by a Harvard Innovation and Economic Complexity Report. The report notes that three of Australia’s major exports are natural resources, which are not defined as complex exports by the report.
Australia’s politics has long been lambasted for the lack of a comprehensive innovation policy that is designed to foster start-up companies and technological innovations. Australia has been a world leader in some areas, including innovative automation technologies for mining and natural resource extraction, and some pharmaceutical products. Despite this, there is a perception that Australia is not a major player in fostering and incubating start-ups. Accenture, an Australian innovators support hub are trying to change this perception, after announcing a new innovation hub in Perth, designed to promote innovation and new technologies for mining companies.
Australia’s mining companies are some of the most innovative in the world, leading the push into automation and renewable energy to fuel mining activities. There are concerns that R&D is better moved overseas, as tax breaks and government subsidies are often better overseas, where governments have a stronger focus on innovation.
Accenture hopes to buck this trend, and to encourage many of these companies to work with their existing infrastructure for cloud computing, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other technologies that allow companies to improve their capabilities. The innovation space is also the precursor for a mobile innovation lab that will eventually lead to further and more rapid progress.
Australia, for a long time, has been criticised for a lack of start-up support from the government, as the tax breaks for R&D pale in comparison to some of its international counterparts who provide significant subsidies and tax breaks for innovative technologies and developments. There are questions to how Australia will compete, and we will find out over the next few decades as to whether this is enough to stay the Lucky Country, and whether it is enough innovation to keep up with the rest of the world.