August 2016 – Nature 2016 Research Translation and Innovation Symposium

Leadership | Culture | Communication | Collaboration | Human Capital | Scale

These were the strong themes emerging from the Nature 2016 Research Translation and Innovation Symposium held in Canberra last week on Thursday 11th of August.

The outcomes of the Symposium, will inform a publication entitled Nature Index Supplement – Australia and New Zealand – scheduled for release on October 27 2016.

This research piece will use nature Index data to examine broad trends in science over the past 4 years.  It will examine the performance of individual institutions in the nature Index based on their output of high quality science and their patterns of collaboration with domestic and international universities.

BioMelbourne Network CEO Dr Krystal Evans was invited to speak on a panel with Starpharma CEO Jackie Fairley and Prof Bill Charman from Monash Institute Pharmaceutical Science (MIPS) on the “value of being neighbourly” and the importance of networked clusters in driving the translation of good science into great outcomes.

Melbourne has the most extensive biotechnology ecosystem in Australia, and while local collaboration creates competitive advantage, it alone is not enough. Our ability to connect globally is a key to success.

Collaboration for innovation was a strong theme throughout the day, with many new grant programs requiring consortium approaches to access funding . A strong point made was that partnerships must be “fit-for-purpose” because companies collaborate with academia where partners add value. If there’s no potential for value, then tax policy settings or grant programs won’t really change things – both parties must bring value to the table for meaningful, sustainable outcomes. To achieve this, academic research organisations must strive to remain relevant to market needs, listen to industry partners and be flexible in their ability to respond. In return industry needs to “reach in” and to find ways to overcome the barriers to relationship building to develop sustainable connections that leverage the wealth of expertise within the academic community.

Much of this relies on leadership, and creating enabling environments that allow leaders, at all levels within an organisation, to make decisions and act on them. A cultural change that empowers people within the system to drive relationships and thus innovation forward. Because businesses don’t collaborate – people do.

Building the human capital and capabilities within the sector, to connect people who have different skills but the same vision for what can be achieved when taking research discoveries through to patient outcomes. This is the challenge ahead, and it will need champions to lead and build the narrative around why investing in science, technology, research and innovation is essential to Australia’s future.

 

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