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Inventions and R & D Funding

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We have had the greatest ideas for the last hundred years.
Unfortunately, they have been our greatest exports!

Australia has been experiencing a “Brain Drain for some years.  However, Australia has also produced more inventions per capita than most, if not any other country on the planet.  We are a creative nation of individuals.  However, those inventions, along with the brains, are going overseas!

Why is this? 

For many years, perhaps since the “Lima Declaration” was signed by Gareth Evans on March 26, 1975, our local industries have been systematically exported.  Less and less focus is placed on us being able to produce or manufacture items, products or in fact, anything apart from a simple value add to raw materials.  More focus is placed on exporting raw materials than developing the new technology that our brilliant minds are creating.

It has to change.  For us to create a niche market for ourselves, aside from being an exporter of a finite supply of raw materials in the current resources boom, we have to truly become smart, and that requires funding of ideas and the people who have them, as well as the industries that can bring them to fruition.

This includes enabling young people to attend universities, and making those universities places of learning and education and research and true development.  It does NOT mean just throwing money at them.  Research projects, like junk, expand to utilize the resources available to them.  However, genuine venture capital, genuine seed funding for the hundreds and even thousands of new technology ideas is critical for Australia, as a nation, to genuinely take our place in the developing world as a place of entrepreneurial leadership in the many expanding fields of technology we are discovering.

It’s often said that over half the jobs of the next 20 years belong to industries and technologies that don’t exist yet, as they haven’t been created or invented.  Someone has to do that – why not us?

Australia and the USA are possibly the two most creative thinking countries on the planet, with Australia in the lead.  We have created such wonderful products as the Victa Lawn Mower, Hills Hoist, numerous medical discoveries, but so many inventions and huge numbers of them were funded by more entrepreneurial minds overseas, not here in Australia.  We don’t take our ideas seriously enough, we don’t believe our ideas are worthy and we don’t realise the impact of the loss of these ideas and the research and development intelligence we export when we force these inventors to look overseas for funding for their inventions.

The Asian and Sub-Continent countries are followers and copiers of innovation, and can mass-produce anything virtually overnight.  However, as a general rule, they are not creative thinkers, by their nature.  They evolve slowly into new ideas but rapidly copy any technology that can be shown to work.  This is their evolutionary path and has been demonstrated for decades.  They are also incredibly wealthy countries, despite so many of the population living in extreme poverty.  They often have a caste/class system where extreme wealth goes hand in hand with and often exploits lower caste/class citizens, utilising them as cheap labour, further reinforcing the wealth and class divisions.

Our creativity is not threatened by anyone else on the planet.  We will remain a creative nation.  However, we are developing a culture that does not welcome our thinkers and inventors, we do not encourage them and we do not fund them.  We force them to travel the world in search of funding, so that their brilliance often comes back to us mass produced from a third world country, funded by a wealthy individual, and mass produced with cheap labour in sub-standard conditions in a factory that our own workers would not care to work on.

What is the solution?

We need firstly, an attitude change, from the top down, at government, senior R & D facility management, and corporate levels, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and inventiveness in our community, to let people know it’s OK to be a free thinker.

Secondly, we need a source of funding to investigate the plethora of ideas that come forward.  In recent times, I have personally been presented with a 20 times more efficient solar panel, a low cost building method, an innovative engine development, oil spill pollution control device and numerous consumer or specialty inventions, each valid, market worthy, potentially very profitable, but every one has so far gone unfunded, or even investigated by appropriate top level people.

The funding source needs to be in stages, enabling anyone to take an idea and in small stages, advance it further and further into discovering whether or not the idea works, and then whether it is feasible.  At this point only does a decision about further, major funding need to be made.

Such a source of funding could be established as an extension to existing R & D facilities in places such as universities, or specific feasibility centres could be established relatively easily in regions throughout Australia.  These locations would act as screening facilities for the ideas, filtering them upward to the point where major R & D funds and grants could be given for their ongoing development and commercialisation.

What’s in it for the country and the inventor?  If the inventor now goes to an international venture capitalist, they are lucky if they get 5% of the value of the business, IF it becomes commercial.  If under this new system, they were promised 25% and the commonwealth took 75%, as a nation we not only retain our brains, we commercialise much new technology which gives us urgently needed export dollars to balance the incredible level of imports we need – perhaps eventually balancing our monthly trade imbalance.  The new businesses developed could evolve into whole new industries.

Regardless, we cannot continue to export our industries.  In 30 years, we have exported our complete clothing, textile and footwear industries, our wool industry is almost lost aside from growing the wool, and because we exported live rams and semen in the 1960/1970 period, we now also have to compete in the market internationally to sell wool which was once only available from here in Australia.

We are at the forefront in clean coal technology, but are not capitalising on it.  We don’t need it here in Australia, because we could turn to Geothermal or Nuclear power generation within a decade and reduce the use of coal in our power stations.  However, there are countries around the world that do not have a Geothermal or Nuclear option, and they need our coal and will continue to buy it.  These are the buyers of our coal and clean coal technology and we need to exploit that opportunity. 

Currently, there is little genuine incentive to do so.  It’s the same attitude that is reflected nationally and deplored by every thinking mind in the country.  Unless this attitude is reversed and support given, this technology too will vanish overseas and we will need to buy it back also!


Research THE LIMA DECLARATION on Google and learn the truth about it.

Ask your local members what they know about The Lima Declaration and whether they support the principles.  Make up your own mind on their level of knowledge or ignorance, and how important that is to them and you.  Are they willing to learn more, if they know little?  Most will know little initially.

Study Entrepreneurs and their methods for achieving eventual success.

Take every opportunity to encourage and support local entrepreneurs at every age, especially through schools. 

Sponsor a “Brightest idea” at your local school.

Watch “The Inventors” on ABC TV.

Back to Business and Entrepreneurship

Putting the pressure on our politicians and leaders, to take the decisions that need to be taken right now, to solve the problems we have, that we already know how to solve!