Pip Marlow, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia
This week Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Strategy designed to drive economic diversity, encourage entrepreneurship and develop and support new enterprises.
This policy, that shapes existing innovation programs and new plans into a cohesive strategy with clear objectives, is music to my ears. The acknowledgement of the important role graduates in STEM fields will play in enabling Australia’s future prosperity alongside the commitment to focus on STEM skills in school education and to introduce computer coding across the curriculum were standout elements.
I have always believed that, even if students don’t go on to pursue careers in information technology and related fields, a core understanding of coding and how technology works would be hugely beneficial to every working life.
The proposed trial of a P-TECH style education facility is another exciting part of this announcement. This sort of model sees industry leaders and school teachers working together to ensure strong leadership, collaboration, curriculum design and mentoring which ultimately should lead to better employment opportunities for young Australians.
I’m very keen to see my two young girls benefit from this sort of environment when they begin to consider their first steps into the Australian workforce.
Implicit in this announcement is a recognition of the interdependence of innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity that was the focus of Microsoft’s Joined Up Innovation paper released earlier in the year. Recognising and cultivating the right skills was one of seven recommendations made in that paper.
As a player in the innovation ecosystem, we applaud policies such as this that advance the national interest. We believe that Australia can improve its ability to create innovative, high-value producing businesses by ensuring all elements of its innovation ecosystem are better informed and better connected, locally and globally. This is one reason why we support the announcement of the Industry Growth Centres that will better connect researchers and industry.
I also welcome the announcement of the commitment to reform the taxation treatment of Employee Share Schemes to encourage start-ups to attract and retain employees, as well as the $18million Australian Small Business Advisory Services program.
I look forward to seeing how this announcement encourages innovation among the small and medium sized enterprises that drive the Australian economy.