Australia is not leading the charge on digital transformation currently from a global perspective, with scientists urging both researchers and industry to work more closely together to ensure Australia reaps the benefits from a rapidly expanding sector.

The authors of a key new plan Preparing for Australia’s Digital Future – a joint release by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science – are calling for action on fostering closer partnerships between industry and the research sector to make sure Australia is best placed to realise and capitalise on opportunities in digital technology within the near future and beyond.

While the plan’s authors acknowledge Australian success stories in digital technology such as Atlassian, Technology One, Vitalcare, VPI Photonics and Aconex, they note that research investment in digital technology is merely a fraction of its potential contribution to the country’s future prosperity.

FireShot Capture 078 - EMBARGOED_ Bring science and industry together for a better digital f_ -

Professor Glenn Wightwick FTSE, a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering and co-chair of the steering committee that drew up the plan emphasised that digital transformations are continuously and rapidly evolving, driven by aggressive technology progress and accelerating uptake. “Australia is not driving,” he added. “It is essential that, through strategic actions outlined in this plan, we are able to chart our own course.”

Professor Rod Tucker OAM FAA FTSE, a Fellow of the Academy of Science and co-chair, said the strategic plan was designed to help Australia do better. “Numerous success stories demonstrate our ability to turn excellent science and research into commercial technologies and services that benefit Australia,” he said.

“Yet to realise our potential, we need a plan to help Australians recognise, act on and derive as much benefit as possible from opportunities in our digital research and innovation sectors.”

Meanwhile, Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO FAA FTSE, Chairman of NBN Co and Chancellor of RMIT University,  said: “Everywhere we look we see evidence of digital transformations that are shaping Australian society and our economy and which will change this country in the decades ahead.”

“In this timely report on digital innovation from two of the Learned Academies, we now have an overarching strategic plan that will help Australians act on and derive as much benefit as possible from opportunities in our digital research and innovation sectors,” he said.

“I’m confident this plan can position Australia as a successful, forward-thinking digital nation – one with an enhanced ability to translate our public and private sector ICT research into skills, innovation, public benefit, careers and jobs, and commercial success.”

The plan features a set of 32 recommendations arranged in five key areas:

  • Encouraging digital leadership in industry
  • Fostering research and industry partnership for our digital future
  • Safeguarding and strengthening our digital workforce and capability pipeline
  • Ensuring whole-of-government action for our digital future
  • Delivering research sector reforms