Innovation is the introduction of new goods, services, processes and/or organisational change within businesses for the provision of goods and/or services. Innovation surveys provide a wider measure of the innovation process than R&D surveys.
The ABS has conducted two surveys of innovation, the first in respect of 1993-94 and a second, more comprehensive survey, in respect of 1996-97. These surveys were based on the concepts and standard questions developed jointly by the OECD and Eurostat (the statistical office for the European Union). While the main ABS innovation surveys obtained data from manufacturing businesses, exploratory surveys have also been conducted for the mining, agriculture, construction and telecommunications industries.
The total amount spent by manufacturing businesses on technological innovation during 1996-97 was estimated at $3.9b. About half of this was spent on R&D. See Innovation in Manufacturing, Australia (8116.0) and previous editions of Year Book Australia for further data from the innovation surveys.
The ABS is planning to undertake a comprehensive innovation survey in early 2004 with respect to the 2003 calendar year. The survey will cover the industries within the market sector, excluding agriculture. The topics being investigated for inclusion in the survey are: general and financial information, innovation activities, outputs, cooperation/linkages, sources of information, technology transfer, business environment, business and innovation strategy, barriers to innovation, management practices, learning capacity/skills base, information and communication technologies upgrades and innovation expenditure. The results of this survey are expected to be released toward the end of 2004.
An intermediate measure of innovation is number of patents obtained by Australian residents. Graph 25.16 shows the number of United States of America patents by Australian inventors during the period 1980-2000. Given the dominance of the United States of America market for innovative products, this is an indicator of Australian innovation. The number of such patents has grown significantly over this period, particularly since 1997, but remains well below that of several OECD countries of similar population.
Innovation depends on other aspects of what the OECD calls a 'knowledge-based economy', such as human capital and information and communications technology. In September 2003, the ABS published a new electronic product, Measures of a Knowledge-based Economy and Society, Australia - Electronic Delivery (1377.0). The aim of this new product is to enable policy makers to better understand, through access to relevant statistics, the degree to which Australia is a knowledge-based economy and society.