In a roundtable in conjunction with PwC, BlueNotes managing editor Andrew Cornell discussed the issue with CFA Society of Melbourne past president Paula Allen, Managing Director at OurCrowd Australasia Dan Bennett, Executive Chairman of Good Super Aron D'Souza and PwC Managing Partner Chris Dodd.
In this final part of the series, we began by asking about the Australian federal government's changing attitude to innovation. You can read part one here.
" There are fundamental flaws in how we've structured super in this country."
Aron D'Souza, Executive Chairman of Good Super
Andrew Cornell: There are a couple of themes at work here. One is structural – including regulation and taxation which we have already discussed – but the other is risk appetite and the attitude to innovation.
Late last year we saw an innovation statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will this help?
Paula Allen: I think the biggest thing that struck me and I think all of Australia was the preparedness of the government to have the open conversation about innovation. I think that's the big issue – it's a shift.
There are fundamental flaws in how we've structured super in this country, particularly when it comes to liquidity issues, but at least we are prepared to have that debate now and I think it will take us a long way forward.
Chris Dodd: I think the government has encouraged a 'license to question' mentality. We have a noble objective of what we want to head towards and now it's about having the conversation around what we as a country are willing to do to get there.
It's got to be a broader conversation than just 'how do we get more innovations from start-up companies?', it's got to be about considering if we doing enough to encourage the big companies and established institutions to innovate, too. But is business the only place where innovation comes from? That can't be right.
We also have to think about what system we are bringing students through to allow them to be as innovative as they can be. We talk about STEM subjects but actually that exact description of STEM – science, technology, engineering, mathematics - is about the most boring way we can describe the four subjects we want the kids to do.
Calling them STEM is probably scaring them away. We need to call it 'digi' or coding or anything that creates a completely different conversation about engineering and maths.
Dan Bennett: I agree. That's so fundamental to the success of increasing our kids' participation in STEM.
Turnbull has generated discussion but has he made it snazzy? I think just the fact he has started the conversation and also innovated himself gives him a level of street cred we are not used to in a politician.
I don't think Angela Merkel or Barack Obama can say, “I once started an internet company". Turnbull just has cred that allows the conversation to get going.
Aron D'Souza: One of the fundamental problems is we have a massive talent drain in Australia. I think it's something like nine out of 10 young Australians want to work abroad according to a survey produced by recruiting firm Robert Walters.