Australia versus California

Glyn Davis and Joshua Frydenberg like what they see in California and think Australia is placed to do the same:

Like California, Australia must consider its future. We share much in common: a welcoming climate, natural resources, an immigrant culture and an economy in which services rather than manufacturing provide most employment. Like California, Australia too is seeing and seizing the economic opportunities in Asia, particularly in China.

But if Australia is going to take the next step and become a hub for innovation and new markets, it is our universities that must become the fulcrum for this change. Building closer relationships between educators and business, encouraging a greater culture of philanthropy, increasing our appetite for venture-capital-type risks, and a more active program for recruiting and nurturing the best talent are just some of the techniques Australia needs to more effectively employ.

They conclude that it may be easy:

Australia has the people, the resources and the capacity to replicate California’s success. Let us start now.

Sadly, this conclusion is wrong or at least overly optimistic. According to our latest research here at the University of Melbourne, Australia is far from having the innovative capacity in terms of people, resources and other things to replicate the success of the US, let alone California that has a strong potential still. It is not simply a matter of changing the status of universities — although that would help — or the other linkages they suggest. Instead, we do need more dollars devoted to scientific human resources as well as baseline education. It is that that continues to be the hard sell for politicians.

3 thoughts on “Australia versus California”

  1. Jeremy, you can talk! A bit from the Sydney Morning Herald 13th August 2002 in an article about Sydney property prices:

    ‘There is also a risk that Sydney can no longer afford to house the brain power it needs.

    National Economics estimated that Global Sydney was short 53 academics in 2001.

    Jeremy Gans, a law lecturer, is one who left in search of more reasonable property prices.

    Resigning from his University of NSW job, where he earned $50,000 a year and was on track to be promoted, he went to Melbourne University when the opportunity arose.

    “I’m a fairly clear case of brain drain,” he said.’


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