Bring science and industry together for a better digital future

September 04, 2019
The plan calls for closer partnerships between industry and the research sector. Photo credit: Alex Knight/Unsplash

Australia is not in the driving seat when it comes to the digital transformation currently underway worldwide, with scientists today calling on researchers and industry to work together to ensure Australia benefits from a rapidly expanding sector.

That’s the conclusion of a major new plan, Preparing for Australia’s Digital Future, released today by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science.

Australian success stories in digital technology include Atlassian, Technology One, Vitalcare, VPI Photonics and Aconex—but research investment in digital technology is only a tiny fraction of its potential contribution to Australia’s future prosperity.

The plan calls for action on promoting closer partnerships between industry and the research sector to ensure Australia is best placed to realise and capitalise on opportunities in digital technology over the coming decade and beyond.

Professor Glenn Wightwick FTSE, a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering and co-chair of the steering committee that drew up the plan, said: “Digital transformations are continuously and rapidly evolving, driven by aggressive technology progress and accelerating uptake—and Australia is not driving.

“It is essential that, through strategic actions outlined in this plan, we are able to chart our own course.”

Professor Rod Tucker OAM FAA FTSE, a Fellow of the Academy of Science and co-chair, said: “This strategic plan is designed to help Australia do better. Numerous success stories demonstrate our ability to turn excellent science and research into commercial technologies and services that benefit Australia.

“Yet to realise our potential, we need a plan to help Australians recognise, act on and derive as much benefit as possible from opportunities in our digital research and innovation sectors.”

Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO FAA FTSE, Chairman of NBN Co and Chancellor of RMIT University, will join Professors Wightwick and Tucker in speaking at the launch of the report on Wednesday morning.

Dr Switkowski said: “Everywhere we look we see evidence of digital transformations that are shaping Australian society and our economy and which will change this country in the decades ahead.

“In this timely report on digital innovation from two of the Learned Academies, we now have an overarching strategic plan that will help Australians act on and derive as much benefit as possible from opportunities in our digital research and innovation sectors.

“I’m confident this plan can position Australia as a successful, forward-thinking digital nation—one with an enhanced ability to translate our public and private sector ICT research into skills, innovation, public benefit, careers and jobs, and commercial success.”

The plan includes 32 recommendations grouped under five priority areas:

  • Encouraging digital leadership in industry
  • Fostering research and industry partnership for our digital future
  • Safeguarding and strengthening our digital workforce and capability pipeline
  • Ensuring whole-of-government action for our digital future
  • Delivering research sector reforms

Read the decadal plan

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