Leigh Dayton, “How not to innovate: The case of Australia’s bionic eye”
United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, July 2019.
When it comes to science and innovation, Australia punches above its weight but when it comes to commercialising its applied science, the nation plays well below par.
Part of the difficulty is that, thanks to Australia’s threeyear political cycle, many federal policy and funding changes are short-term and scatter gun. This is where the Australian Research Council’s Research in Bionic Vision Science and Technology initiative — the socalled bionic eye initiative — offers a productive way to explore the barriers to successful innovation in
Australia. It is a lesson in how not to innovate.
A study of the bionic eye example leads to a suite of recommendations aimed at boosting the nation’s ability to take applied science to market. These recommendations focus on the lack of continuity in Australia’s ad hoc innovation system, its funding shortfall, poor collaboration and hurdles in the process of translating advanced biotechnology into commercial products.