The Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Sen the Hon Michaelia Cash has released a report entitled “Australia 2030: Prosperity Through Innovation”, that details a strategic plan for the Australian innovation, science and research system out to 2030. The report covers the need for and opportunities from innovation; five elements of a sustainable national innovation system; and a roadmap for implementation.
The five components of the innovation system are:
- Education: Respond to the changing nature of work by equipping all Australians with skills relevant to 2030;
- Industry: Ensure Australia’s ongoing prosperity by stimulating high-growth firms and improving productivity;
- Government: Become a catalyst for innovation and be recognised as a global leader in innovative service delivery;
- Research and development: Improve research and development effectiveness by increasing translation and commercialisation of research; and
- Culture and ambition: Enhance the national culture of innovation by launching ambitious National Missions.
The Plan is relatively undefined in some respects, including how to achieve particularly strong ambitions in education.
There are major changes suggested for the Research and Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI), which carry some implementation risks:
- a cap on the refundable element (used by smaller businesses in a tax loss) of $4m annually and $40m cumulatively;
- barring claims by businesses that do not spend at least 1% of turnover on innovation. Under a previous ‘threshold’ proposal only spending above this level would be claimable, cutting the value of the R&DTI for all businesses; the latest ‘trigger’ proposal provides full value to those who can get over the hurdle. This sharpens incentives for businesses near the margin to increase or maintain R&D, but will be challenging for larger more established businesses who wish to innovate; and
- offering a 20% premium for R&DTI claims relating to collaborative innovation.
The Plan is not yet Government policy and it is not clear yet whether it will be accepted in full. It has been prepared by Innovation and Science Australia(IAS) – an independent statutory board that provides strategic advice to the Australian Government, through Minister Cash and the Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
One of the suggested National Missions listed in the document is a potential “Hydrogen City”, whereby ‘an entire city could have its reticulated gas distribution system converted to clean hydrogen by 2030’. The document aspires for Australia to take a leadership position in the field of hydrogen technologies and indicates that ‘total investment to meet the [Hydrogen City] project scope is estimated to be around $500 million over 10 years combining public and private funding’(page 109 of the report).
A full copy of the report can be found here.