Australia needs right tools to build path to innovation

November 05, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is desperate for Australia to be innovative - but do businesses have the technologies they need to truly transform?

QUT researchers are investigating which 'innovation systems' can help guide businesses to become more inventive and stimulate economic growth.

The project, A Theory of Innovation Systems, was awarded $380,000 in funding in the 2016 Australian Research Council Discovery Projects round.

"Increasing productivity and economic growth through successful innovation is a priority for Australia," lead researcher Professor Jan Recker said.

"Technology is meant to assist in this challenge, but knowledge is lacking about how information systems can meaningfully support organisations in becoming innovative.

"The point of the project is that no 'real' successful innovation system exists yet. There are some systems in use for innovation purposes but often they do not work."

Professor Recker, whose previous research has analysed why innovation systems attempted by businesses have failed, said ideas that initially seemed innovative could turn out to be more of a hindrance than a help.

"A good example of this is Starbucks' which encourages people to submit innovative ideas about how the company can improve its services or be more efficient," he said.

"While in theory this is a good way to develop more innovative practices, what it doesn't show is that the website generates many, many thousands of ideas.

"Someone, somewhere, using another system or process, needs to examine these ideas and if necessary progress them to the next stage. So this system really only does one part of the job."

Professor Recker said the project will develop and test a 'theory' of innovation systems to analyse which processes are likely to be most beneficial for organisations.

"Our results will assist the development of new systems to support innovation in businesses, the management of these initiatives to increase productivity and growth, and how to effectively asses the technologies that support innovations," he said.

"Innovation is a hot topic for business and government and an ongoing challenge that we will see more and more investment in as Australia strives to keep up with the pace of technological change.

"Our project is trying to understand what innovation systems are and what they are meant to do, but, importantly, it is also about building better ones that can allow Australia to flourish."

Queensland University of Technology

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