Australia’s new Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.
Dr Finkel, the current Chancellor of Monash University and President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, has a long list of achievements to his name.
They include establishing Axon Instruments, a world-class supplier of electronic and robotic instruments. He is also chair of a private property development company, publisher of a science magazine, a noted philanthropist and sits on a number of ASX and private company boards.
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, said Dr Finkel was selected from a high-calibre field.
“Dr Finkel is renowned for his outstanding research, industrial and entrepreneurial achievements in Australia and overseas, his leadership and service in the university and education sector, the academies and national science bodies, and his experience in providing high-quality expert advice to government,” Mr Pyne said.
“His will be a vital role in shaping Australia’s economic future and leading our national conversation on science, innovation and commercialisation across the research, industry and education sectors and with the wider community.”
Dr Finkel will provide high-level advice to the government on science, innovation and commercialisation and help lift the profile of Australia’s science achievement both here and overseas.
He has already spoken of the need for Australia’s education system to place more emphasis on STEM subjects.
In an interview on ABC’s Lateline, Dr Finkel said Australian research institutes do a very good job in fundamental and applied research. “But we don’t do a good enough job in getting it out: crossing the divide,” he said.
“We do have some wonderful companies – many, many wonderful companies with the skill set to take proven technologies – not research outcomes, but proven technologies and commercialise them.
“Where we’re probably weakest is going from the research outcomes to the proven technologies. It requires money. It requires managerial expertise. It requires an attitude of belief that one can actually make that transition.”
Meanwhile, Bill Ferris, Innovation Australia’s new chair, is a veteran of the business world, having founded Australia’s first venture capital company in 1970.
He is currently co-chairman of CHAMP Equity, and a Member of the Harvard Business School Asia Pacific Advisory Council.
Mr Ferris is also a former chairman of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Austrade, among other organisations.