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Australia looks to Israel for innovation inspiration - The Australian Jewish News, Tuesday, 13 May, 2008

Please click here to view the article online.

The Minister for Innovation has issued a call for Australia to increase ties with Israel and to use the small country as an example of how to boost the economy.

Senator Kim Carr told an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney earlier this month that countries like Australia – which have small populations – needed to work with other small countries to innovate and develop new businesses.

“I think we need to balance our pursuit of big-power partnerships with a concerted effort to forge closer ties with knowledge-producers about our own size.”

He explained that Australia and Israel’s knowledge output were similar. Both countries produced between one and three per cent of the world’s patents.

However, Senator Carr said that Australia needed to lift its game if it was to come close to the level of innovation generated by Israelis.

While Australia only spent 1.76 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development (R&D) in 2004-2005, Israel spent 4.57 per cent of its GDP on R&D.

Israel’s phenomenal investment in R&D has transformed its economy,” Senator Carr said. “Close to 50 per cent of the country’s exports are high-tech products and services. It has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world, outside the Silicon Valley ... Australia can’t come near that.”

Senator Carr also said it was up to the government to provide investment for innovation.

“The [small countries] that do well – the ones that have developed high-growth, high-tech economies – all have one thing in common, and that’s a government prepared to roll up its sleeves and make things happen,” he said.

The relationship between the two countries has already begun to reap results, Senator Carr added.

Between 2001 and 2006, the Australian Research Council funded 75 projects that involved work in both Australia and Israel.

Please click here to read more on the Chamber's private lunch with Senator The Hon Kim Carr.