Securing Australia’s digital future

Securing Australia's digital future

Australia is falling behind when it comes to digital transformation, according to a new report. Now, scientists are calling on industry and researchers to work together to help position Australia as a “forward-thinking digital nation”.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science launched their plan, Preparing for Australia’s Digital Future, last Wednesday to help best place Australia to realise and capitalise on opportunities in digital technology.

While the plan recognises Australia’s success stories in digital technology, such as Atlassian, Technology One, Vitalcare, VPI Photonics and Aconex, it concedes that digital technology research investment is only a “tiny fraction” of its potential contribution to Australia’s future prosperity.

Academy of Technology and Engineering Fellow and co-chair of the steering committee that drew up the plan, Professor Glenn Wightwick FTSE, 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.”

NBN Co Chairman and RMIT University Chancellor Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO FAA FTSE is optimistic about the plan’s ability to help the country do just that.

“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 partnerships for our digital future; safeguarding and strengthening our digital workforce and capability pipeline; ensuring whole-of-government action for our digital future; and delivering research sector reforms.

Primary recommendations include: industry identification of and leadership in key digital transformation opportunities, with industry initiating strategies for collaboration with appropriate research agencies; increased visibility of publicly funded research; shifting university and publicly funded research agencies’ culture to put higher emphasis on industry experience, placements and collaborations in hiring, promoting and research funding; completion of a national future-readiness review for Australian digital research sectors and development of a position statement on intellectual property (IP) across Australian universities and publicly funded agencies to remove IP as a barrier to research update by industry.

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