There’s something rather interesting going on at the Productivity Commission here in Australia. The Commonwealth Government has asked the PC to undertake a research study on public support for science and innovation in Australia. Now, I’d heard some muttered cynical comments that one of the purposes of this particular inquiry might be to give government some reasons to reduce public funding for innovation (I’m not sure why giving a review to an independent body like the PC would further this kind of aim: I’m just reporting scuttlebut here).

But there’s some interesting submissions going up now, that make for interesting reading if you are interested in innovation and the drivers of innovation.

The Commission has been asked, more specifically, to:

  1. Report on:
    • the economic impact of public support for science and innovation in Australia and, in particular, its impact on Australia’s recent productivity performance;
    • whether there are adequate arrangements to benchmark outcomes from publicly supported science and innovation and to report on those outcomes as measured by the benchmarks.

    The analysis should cover all key elements of the innovation system, including research and development, taking into account interaction with private support for science and innovation, and paying regard to Australia’s industrial structure.

  2. Identify impediments to the effective functioning of Australia’s innovation system including knowledge transfer, technology acquisition and transfer, skills development, commercialisation, collaboration between research organisations and industry, and the creation and use of intellectual property, and identify any scope for improvements;
  3. Evaluate the decision-making principles and programme design elements that:
    1. influence the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s innovation system; and
    2. guide the allocation of funding between and within the different components of Australia’s innovation system;

    and identify any scope for improvements and, to the extent possible, comment on any implications from changing the level and balance of current support;

  4. Report on the broader social and environmental impacts of public support for science and innovation in Australia.
  5. Although the Commission is not requested to review individual programmes, it can, where necessary, undertake case studies of particular types of public support for science and innovation. It should also draw on relevant international experience.

Submissions I’d particularly refer you to include these: