Clash of firms on underspending of Australia on research & development

Clash of firms on underspending of Australia on research & development

Senior Director at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Kathy Connell, has hit back at criticism that the corporate sector of Australia underspends on research & development, arguing that “ebbs & flows” in global rankings aren’t unusual.

The national spend of Australia on Research & Development; at 1.8% of Gross Domestic Product, is way below the 3 – 4 percent averaged by countries like Germany, Sweden, and Israel. The statistic, when combined with the country’s slide on the Global Innovation Index, provoked participants at The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit to warn of the threats of underspending on research & development.

Miss Connell stated that these indicators were a disappointment, however, the aggregate data could be misleading, & that a focus on ‘bright star levers’ like research & development incentive schemes should not come at the exclusion of other programs such as successful public-private collaboration on Co-operative Research Centers.

She said that she’s getting a bit tired of Australia bashing. She does not buy it.

Speaking in a previous session, Maile Carnegie, ANZ’s group executive of digital banking & Australian transformation, declined to answer certain questions about her bank’s expenditure on research & development but stated that she was concerned about a general lack of ambition across sectors.

She said that if you take a look at how much is spent by Amazon in research & development in 2018, it was way more than the research & development of every firm in Australia.

We can chase trends, which are already happening and go after lag indicators like a tax. However, I think there a need for us to go after the lead indicators, & really work on this business expenditure in research & development, since that to me is going to be how we can get on the front foot, versus constantly playing catch-up.