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Calum Drummond: Collaboration Delivers Better Business Outcomes

By Calum Drummond January 31, 2013

Calum Drummond of the CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, writes that collaboration is critical to innovation.

At the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Australia’s national science agency, we seek to have a profound and positive impact on the most significant challenges and opportunities facing Australia and humanity. We have always strongly believed that we, as a research organization, are more effective when we build partnerships – rather than trying to find all the answers on our own.

As a research organization, some of our most notable achievements – like the invention and patent of wireless LAN technology, the Relenza flu vaccine, and the plastic bank notes used in 29 countries worldwide – have spread and advanced as a result of working with government, universities and business to bring these world-changing ideas to the marketplace.

This spirit of collaboration is critical to innovation and is one of the most encouraging findings of GE’s recent Global Innovation Barometer report. The results show that Australian businesses are working together and are seeing the value of collaboration in boosting their innovation capabilities.

Instead of locking down intellectual property, we are seeing a new attitude emerge in Australia where companies are willing to share their ideas. Eighty percent of those surveyed say their business has been increasingly fostering innovation through collaboration.

A staggering 92 percent of respondents strongly agree that innovation success rates are higher through partnerships. This has certainly been the case with the A$20 million (USD 20.8 million) strategic R&D alliance between GE and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Both organizations have a proud history of solving the problems that matter.

While Australia’s place in the global innovation rankings has improved, it is clear that we need to continue to support the initiatives that will help encourage more collaboration and more innovative outcomes.

The report shows that access to capital and talent remain a significant challenge for Australia’s innovation landscape. Schemes such as Australia’s Global Innovation Precincts will have a significant positive impact in addressing some of these challenges by making it easier for companies and individuals to collaborate.

These precincts are productive hotspots that will be living laboratories to facilitate synergies and multi-disciplinary capabilities. Similar schemes in the UK and Germany, like the Catapult Centres and Fraunhofer Clusters, are proving to help bridge the gap between businesses, academia, and government to deliver real innovative outcomes.

With five precincts planned across Australia, these hubs have the potential to connect and cross-fertilise ideas drawn from people with deep expertise. They will no doubt be dynamic places to be.

It is initiatives such as these that will see Australia becoming a leader in facilitating collaboration, innovation and the ideas that will change the way we live.

Dr Calum Drummond is Executive of the Manufacturing Materials and Minerals Group at Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).