Speech at the UTS Vice-Chancellor's Innovation Showcase

University of Technology Sydney

Thank you, Jenny, 

I begin by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land.

I would also like to pay my respects to any First Nations people in the audience today.

I also thank Professor Andrew Parfitt, UTS Vice-Chancellor and President and his team for the opportunity to speak today.

And I look forward to the discussion with the members of the panel which follows.

Hello all, investment in innovation, science and research lays the foundation for ground-breaking technologies and improved products and processes. 

This not only supports our national prosperity – but provides for national wellbeing.  

It plays a part in driving productivity and economic renewal, helping businesses to improve efficiency, solve problems and create high-quality jobs.

As a new Government we have an ambitious science and technology agenda that embraces innovation and supports a national revival that aims to benefit Australians from all corners of the community.  

Technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics, big data analytics and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise how businesses operate across the economy.

What we are recognising tonight, is that in quantum technology Australia has been at the forefront of research and development, contributing to breakthroughs for over two decades.

And tonight, I am delighted to be with you to launch a new venture in quantum – The Australian Quantum Software Network.

This new network of scientists, entrepreneurs and industry partners aims to put Australia at the forefront of quantum software research and development.

The network launches tonight with more than 110 members across 30 academic groups at nine universities and two Australian-based quantum software startups.

UTS is a proud member of the network and I congratulate all involved. It builds on the excellent work of the UTS Centre for Quantum Software and Information, which in turn is an important partner in the Sydney Quantum Academy.

These are just the sort of ventures Australia needs to advance collaboration and excellence in science and industry.

Assembling the network is an impressive achievement. It represents the world's most extensive collection of quantum software and information theory expertise. 

Best wishes to all involved.

Your work will no doubt assist in the development and execution of our first National Quantum Strategy – work being led by our Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley.

And it is a great fit with a commitment we announced in last month’s Budget:

$4.8 million to support Australian quantum research. Delivered through the CSIRO, the money will support the Australian Quantum Graduates Program, providing funds for PhD scholarships. 

And it will back the Sydney Quantum Academy to deliver the National Quantum Collaboration Initiative.

The SQA has been a great success here in Sydney – so we want to see how we can transform that into a national model supporting collaboration in quantum tech.

We all know Australians have the know-how to put together world-leading networks like yours and there is a world of further opportunities before us.

When it comes to quantum technology, we must appreciate the regard that Australian work is held in globally. 

The Albanese Government is determined that we continue to sharpen our edge – and that we are recognised as a global leader. 

I want us to nurture local talent and attract overseas talent and capital, to vault us and entrench us to the front of the quantum pack. 

Further, as the recent CSIRO report on megatrends notes, the next wave of digital innovation will generate $10–15 trillion globally and could contribute $140–250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025.

And Australia's powerhouse tech sector has experienced huge growth in the past decade alone.

One hundred tech companies valued at over $100 million have been created.

The Government has a goal to help the sector reach its potential to contribute $250 billion to our GDP and reach 1.2 million tech-related jobs by the end of this decade. 

The Budget last month helped lay the groundwork to meet these ambitions:

  • Delivering up to 20,000 new university places. 
  • Creating 465,000 Fee Free TAFE places and 
  • a $50 million TAFE Technology Fund. 

We are aiming to get our general frameworks right and within that we have a series of initiatives.

On 27 September I announced that work will commence to revitalise Australia’s science and research priorities and the National Science Statement.

We want frameworks that will better reflect what the nation values. Our current priorities do not reflect the importance of climate science, First Nations knowledge or critical technologies.

The Government is supporting Australians to develop their startup ideas through the Startup Year initiative. 

This is designed to accelerate job growth and economic productivity through the creation of new firms based on the innovation found in Australian universities. 

By extending a line of credit through the HECS/HELP system, it will enable students to participate in university accelerator programs, with the view to commercialise good ideas. 

Turning know-how into dynamic companies.

I was pleased to announce consultation on its final shape at UTS, which has a great startup program.

The Government believes that consultation with stakeholders is essential to make sure that we’ve got the settings right when it comes to research, education and training.

That consultation is under way for our National Quantum Strategy, which we aim to unveil before the end of the year.

This will set out the Australian Government’s vision – to have a thriving quantum industry and be at the forefront of global technological innovation.

To support the local quantum industry and ensure we are part of global supply chains as they develop.

The settings have to be right to create the best environment possible for the development and commercialisation of quantum research.

A major part of this will be creating opportunities for industry, academia and government to work together to capitalise on our world class R&D capability.

With government, industry and researchers working together we can create clear pathways for new and emerging technologies to support world-class industries. 

That thinking will help shape our $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund. Within that, the Government is earmarking $1 billion for investment in critical technologies, including quantum, robotics and AI.  

My department recently released a consultation paper containing the proposed framework for the strategy and we welcome feedback through the department’s Consultation Hub.

Behind all of this is a longer-term vision for investment in R&D in this country. We have said for a long time, including from opposition, that we need to lift Australia’s overall R&D investment closer to the 3 per cent of GDP achieved by other countries. 

An effective R&D tax incentive will be key to that goal. However, with our total R&D spend currently sitting at 1.79 per cent of GDP, we will need to do a lot more.

With manufacturing known to be a key driver of business R&D investment, revitalising Australian industry as part of our Buy Australia Plan and the National Reconstruction Fund will also help.

The days of industry blaming the academy and the academy blaming industry have to be left well behind us. Governments, industry and researchers – we will all need to work together to lift our game on R&D.

As Industry and Science Minister I want to work with you all to ensure that our policies are fit for purpose and doing the job as intended.

There is a great deal of work to do to integrate our efforts, but working together we can all play a part in delivering a better future for Australia. 

Thank you