What if we helped Australian small and medium businesses to seize growth opportunities by facilitating collaboration with NRI facilities and their researchers?
What if collaboration between innovation-hungry Australian SMEs and impact-focused NRI facilities and their researchers was the engine that created a thousand new Australian jobs each year, and established Australia as a global leader in developing a resilient, sustainable, innovation-led economy?
Our experience over the past five years helping more than 700 Australian researchers build partnerships with industry gives us a clear view of the challenges in making this vision real, and gives us optimism that it’s possible. We know that innovation-hungry Australian SMEs need help to:
Validate growth opportunities
Identify the research challenges associated with those opportunities
Connect with impact-focused, collaboration-ready researchers and NRI facilities with the capability to address these challenges
Streamline collaboration, to seed valuable, long-term relationships.
We propose that the NRI provides structured learning and coaching programs to SMEs to build their capability to validate growth opportunities. These programs would connect the SMEs with experts in the relevant research disciplines, helping researchers understand industry needs, reducing SMEs’ technical risks in adopting or investing in emerging technologies, and kick-starting collaboration. This type of engagement will build SMEs’ trust in researchers and the NRI much more powerfully than broad-brush promotion.
The time to do this is now: climate change is driving an urgency to innovate, and creating huge opportunities for those who do; and the pandemic has made the importance of research clear to all. Let’s seize the day, and create the capability among our SMEs and researchers to turn the NRI into Australia’s innovation and growth engine.