Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eco-innovation: building and sustaining momentum

Media release issued today 6 April 2011 by Professor Richard Hames, President, Australia21.

Australia has a choice – to see climate change as a threat to its industrial base, or to see the value eco-innovation offers - in financial gain, joint ventures, skills development, employment, and research & innovation opportunities.

There are huge openings for Australia to participate in the trillions of dollars being spent in China, the US and India on green technologies over the next few decades.

‘But there still is much work to be done in Australia to support an innovation and entrepreneurial culture capable of taking advantage of these technology opportunities’, says Professor Richard Hames, President, Australia21.

Australia is yet to develop a national approach that would see it become a global leader in resource and energy innovation.

Prof Hames noted that, ‘a major challenge for Australia is the lack of coherence between and within government departments and industry – which impedes the development of the cross-disciplinary approaches required to develop a national eco-innovation strategy’.

Yet, effective strategies for eco-innovation need to include a diversity of portfolios including: environment, science & technology, industry, transport, competition, and energy. Successful policies also require a mix of diverse tools and initiatives, from support for research and development (R&D), to market creation and export promotion.

A new OECD report, Better Policies to Support Eco-Innovation, 2011 has found that: making mature technologies more market-friendly is as important as producing new knowledge; technical and non-technical innovations matter equally; and capturing innovations originating in non-environmental domains opens a large spectrum.

Currently there are few business or deployment models that allow us to take innovations no longer protectable by patents to build entrepreneurial, equity financed ventures to bring green technologies to market.  Professor Hames says that ‘what we need is to innovate our business and social structures to bring solutions already here into use’. 

One such model is the Global Innovation Commons (GIC) which promises to spur a strong new wave of technological innovation through the sharing of new ideas rather than through exclusive, private control of them.

Professor Hames confirmed that Dr David Martin, founder of the GIC, and a speaker at an upcoming Australia21 conference, will make the point that patents often serve to impede innovative technologies and make them unaffordable—at precisely the time when all countries need to adopt cutting-edge energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

An Australia21 conference will explore all these issues and discuss solutions on 14 April 2011 at The Australian National University.

More Information contact:
Prof Richard Hames, President, Australia21, m) 0419 851 523
Dr Lynne Reeder, Executive Director, Australia21, m) 0431 608958

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