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Australia can become an innovation nation

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What needs to change?

When it comes to innovation, Australia is lagging behind the world’s Smart Nations, such as Singapore and Israel – small nations with thriving startup and innovation ecosystems. For example, Singapore, which has an economy five times smaller than Australia, recently announced an $18 billion investment in R&D across five years – an investment significantly larger than Australia’s NISA initiative.

To keep pace with global leaders in innovation – including some of our regional neighbours, like Singapore – we need to build a healthy innovation ecosystem here in Australia. Every year, more and more Australian entrepreneurs and startups are shaking up the business world, driving new ways of thinking and operating. However, we still have a long way to go.

So what are we missing? We have the economic capacity, the talent and resources to leverage innovation on the ground. Despite this, a cultural fear of failure and lack of government backing has severely inhibited innovation in Australia, with entrepreneurs and leaders often turning to North America or Europe, and now Asia.

How to make innovation happen in Australia
1. Develop a rich ecosystem

We need to foster a rich ecosystem through an energetic, dynamic and forward-thinking culture, underpinned by inspiring change makers. This culture must be diverse, inclusive and supportive on every level, from individuals, to schools, to the local and federal government. We need to invest more time, energy and spend in technology and innovation.

2. Drive diversity on every level

A diverse business world encompasses everything from gender parity and multiculturalism in the workplace, to a strong mentoring culture and educational opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. Across local and federal government, we need to treat innovation and digital disruption as an enabler, not an inhibitor.

3. Collaborate to succeed

Due to our close proximity to South-East Asia, we need to harness stronger partnerships and business ties with neighbours like Singapore, which offer largely untapped potential for Australians to market new products and technologies. We also need to stop working in isolation, and collaborate within our own backyard and ecosystem.

4. Be comfortable with failure

Finally, we need to learn that it’s okay to fail – after all, innovation and entrepreneurship are all about taking risks. Failure strengthens the resolve to charge forward, driving change and innovation for entrepreneurs and startups. Overcoming failure is a leverage point that can propel us into exciting new territory.

Read the full article in The CEO Magazine.