Home' acuity : Acuity May 15 Contents TONY MALKOVICH
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hollowed out through underfunding
across virtually all the states there’s a
gap in the skills continuum, and it’s a
Another gap exists in supporting risk-
taking and entrepreneurship.
The federal government last year
signalled it would reform the way it
would tax employee share schemes to
help promote entrepreneurship and
support innovative start-up companies.
Livingstone says that’s an important
signal for business.
Also important is the need to
support what’s known as “knowledge
“Much as you might talk of bridges
and ports and whatever, we should
look at what knowledge infrastructure
we have, because that’s what’s going to
attract bright people,” she says.
By way of example, she cites the case
of the National Collaborative Research
Infrastructure Strategy, the scheme
that’s helped fund infrastructure
projects such as the Australian
Synchrotron project and the Australian
National Fabrication facility.
“ That’s absolutely what Australia
should have and does have, yet the
funding to that was under question,”
“It is an important element of our
knowledge infrastructure to have those
facilities, and they’re somehow seen as
dispensable or a bargaining chip.
“So developing a much more mature
concept around what our knowledge
infrastructure is and how we build and
maintain it rather than thinking it’s
an expense that we can just cut if we
need to save some money, would be a
Catherine Livingstone AO FCA started
her business career as a chartered
accountant with Price Waterhouse in
Sydney and London.
Throughout her career she’s
been involved in companies and
organisations in medical innovation
and science, and is a strong advocate
for innovation and research.
She was CEO and managing
director of bionic ear maker Cochlear
Limited when it was floated two
decades ago and is a former chair
of the CSIRO. She is currently the
chair of Telstra and a director of
She is also the president of the
Business Council of Australia which
includes more than 100 of Australia’s
most successful business leaders.
As well as that, Livingstone is
a member of the Prime Minister’s
Business Advisory Council and the
Commonwealth Science Council, and
has worked on many government
reviews over the past ten years.
These include her being on the
advisory panel for the Australia in
the Asian Century white paper and
a member of the National Innovation
Systems Review Panel.
In 2008, she was appointed an
Officer of the Order of Australia for
her services to the development of
Australian science, technology and
innovation policies to the business
AN INNOVATIVE BUSINESS CHAMPION
fundamental mind set change.”
Likewise, she’s concerned that
funding for National ICT Australia
(NICTA), Australia’s largest ICT research
organisation, has been extended for
only two years.
“NICTA is, in terms of the sort of
capability we should be building, a
core capability needed for the future
involving the whole ICT, data analytics,
digital skills area,” Livingstone says.
“We have built this institution over
some 12 years, yet now we’re saying after
June 2016, we’re not going to fund it.
“Yet everywhere else in the
world, people are trying to build up
capabilities such as NICTA.”
While our knowledge infrastructure
might seem to underpin our research
efforts, she points out its true worth will
be in underpinning business in the 21st
“A key step in signalling how important
innovation is would be to adopt this
concept of knowledge infrastructure
and understand its importance to the
ability of businesses to develop new
business models and adapt existing
business models in the face of massive
technological change,” she says.
“In Australia, we need to have
collaborative infrastructure which is
accessible by multiple parties because
we don’t have institutions that are big
enough and have enough funding to
have all these facilities themselves – nor
would that make sense.”
What does make sense, says
Livingstone, is that we roll up our
sleeves and make a conscious effort
to re-think and re-shape our economy
over the next ten years – with our
future wealth, and hence reinvestment
capacity, depending on it.
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