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Topics @ a Glance - Innovation, Science and Technology



Business Characteristics Survey (BCS)
The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is conducted annually. The survey includes a core component of characteristics questions with detailed questions around an alternating topic: Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) or Innovation. The survey aims to collect key measures on business characteristics to develop more relevant and effective government industry policies, and to support Australian businesses, particularly small and medium sized businesses. As well as producing population estimates, the data collected will support the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and will be used to build a statistical longitudinal database for public and private sector analysts. The 2011-12 iteration of BCS had a BUIT focus.

Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8167.0) was released on the 19th September 2013. This issue reported that productivity increased for a third of businesses that pursued innovation during 2011-12, while only 14 percent of non innovation-active businesses reported any increase in productivity.

The data released also showed that in the year ended 30 June 2012, 18 percent of all businesses sought debt or equity finance. Of those businesses seeking debt finance, 88 percent reported that it had been obtained. Businesses with innovative activity were twice as likely to seek finance as non innovation-active businesses (24 percent compared with 12 percent). Irrespective of whether they were innovating, the most common reason for seeking finance was to maintain the short term cash flow of the business.

Business Use of Information Technology, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8129.0) was released on 22nd August 2013, and shows working from home is a growing option for internet savvy businesses. More than a third of micro businesses now use the internet to enable staff to work from home. This is an eight percentage point increase in two years. For larger businesses, more than three quarters have the facility for staff to use the internet to work from home.

The BUIT release reported that one in five Australian businesses had a social media presence as at 30 June 2012, with businesses in the Arts and recreation services industry the biggest users of social media.

Four in five Australian businesses with internet access use it for financial activities including online banking, invoicing and payments; however, not all businesses with internet access have a website or other web presence. Nearly two thirds of these businesses said they did not see the need to have a website, and one quarter reported they lacked the technical expertise to set one up.

Publications released using BCS data include:

Business Longitudinal Database (BLD), Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF)
The Innovation & Technology Branch is responsible for the creation and release of the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) of Australian business characteristics. This product, Microdata: Business Longitudinal Database, Australia, 2006-07 to 2010-11 (cat. no. 8168.0.55.001) is a specialised product for analytical purposes, providing a look at confidentialised, individual business data. The BLD CURF is released annually and aims to increase understanding of: the activities or factors that are relevant to small and medium business productivity; competitiveness and viability; and, the business characteristics that are associated with these activities or factors.

Information included in the BLD CURF is drawn from business characteristics data sourced from an ABS survey, the Business Characteristics Survey, and financial data is sourced from two main administrative sources: the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs).

The BLD CURF is available for research purposes and is released with the approval of the Australian Statistician. To ensure microdata is maintained, access is managed in a unique virtual environment, the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). Further information is available at the CURF Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

The BLD CURF can also be accessed via a consultancy with the ABS where the research or analysis is undertaken by the ABS on behalf of the client. This work is performed on a fee for service basis.

Internet Activity Survey (IAS)
Internet Activity, Australia, June 2013 (cat. no. 8153.0) was released on 8th October 2013.

The IAS is conducted biannually. Data in this release are based on results from all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in Australia, with more than 1,000 active subscribers. Every three years for the June reference period, the survey is run as a full census of all ISPs operating in Australia, this was the case for the June 2013 release. The IAS provides key statistics on the supply of internet services and the participation of Australians in internet activities, including subscriber numbers by access technology, download speed, state or territory, type of user and volume of data downloaded. The IAS also reports the number of subscribers with internet access connections via a mobile handset and volume of data downloaded by subscribers with internet access via a mobile handset.

The recent IAS release showed download volumes for mobile handsets have seen explosive growth. Nearly 20,000 terabytes of data was downloaded by Australians with internet access connections via a mobile handset in the three months to June 2013, an increase of 6,000 terabytes from the previous period of October to December 2012. Mobile handset downloads contribute a small percentage of our total internet downloads - in the three months to June 2013, Australia's total download volume hit 657,000 terabytes, which is up 18 percent compared to the three months ended December 2012.

It also revealed that in pure percentage terms, fibre has been the fastest growing type of connection, with a 26 percent increase since December 2012. There's now 115,000 fibre connections compared to 6.2 million mobile wireless broadband connections such as a dongle or tablet SIM card, 4.8 million by DSL, 93,000 by satellite, and 227,000 still on dial-up.

Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT)
Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2010-11 (cat. no. 8146.0) was released on the 15 December 2011.

The Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT) presents estimates on household and personal use of information technology in Australia and is released biennially. The data is collected from the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) and the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). Most of the findings in the publication are from the MPHS and cover Australian persons aged 15 years and over. The SDAC statistics relate to two specific groups: persons with a disability and older persons (people aged 60 years and over).The data in the 2010-11 release includes: access to internet, location of access, type of internet connection and purpose of using the internet. The data are presented by various demographic and geographic splits.

The most recent release of HUIT in 2010-11 indicated that the percentage of Australian households with access to the internet at home increased to 79%. It also showed there were an estimated 6.2 million households with a broadband internet connection, that broadband is accessed by nearly three-quarters (73%) of all households in Australia and 83% of households had access to a computer at home.

Research and Experimental Development (R&D)
Research and Experimental Development (R&D) data are collected, compiled and released for the Business, Higher Education, Government, and Private Non-Profit sectors. R&D, as collected by the ABS, is defined in accordance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition as 'creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications'.

Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8104.0) was released on 6 September 2013, and figures showed businesses spent $18.3 billion on R&D. The two percent increase from the previous year was driven by expenditure across four industries.

The major contributors to R&D expenditure were the Manufacturing and Mining industries, at 24 and 22 percent respectively. The Financial and insurance services industry, and the Professional, scientific and technical services industry each contributed 16 percent.

Businesses in the Mining industry reported the largest growth in R&D expenditure, increasing by $265 million over the last financial year, however, the largest movement for any industry was a decrease of $331 million for the Manufacturing industry.

Almost half of all businesses reporting R&D expenditure (in dollar terms) in 2011-12 classified their field of research as engineering. The next largest field of research was information and computing sciences.

By state, the largest increase in expenditure on R&D from 2010-11 was reported in Western Australia (up $320 million), followed by South Australia (up $215 million). The largest decreases were reported in Queensland (down $180 million) and Victoria (down $141 million).

R&D publications include:

Recent and future changes to the publication of R&D data include:
  • Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8104.0)
    The estimates for the 2011-12 release are based on information provided from a sample of businesses within the Australian business sector with intramural expenditure on R&D of $100,000 or more during the reference period. This is a change from previous publications which were based on a census of Australian businesses with intramural expenditure on R&D of $100,000 or more during the reference period. Users should refer to the Explanatory Notes, Technical Note, and Appendix - Survey Changes for further information.
    The 2011-12 publication was the last survey published on an annual basis. Future surveys will be conducted biennially. The next survey will be conducted for the 2013-14 financial year.
  • Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8109.0)
    The 2010-11 survey was deferred for a year and conducted for the 2011-12 financial year. The survey will be undertaken again for 2012-13, before returning to a biennial (two-yearly) collection frequency.
  • Research and Experimental Development, All Sector Summary, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 8112.0) CEASED
    This publication has now ceased. Gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) - representing the total expenditure devoted to R&D by the Business, Government, Higher Education, and Private Non-Profit sectors, is no longer published in a separate release. Recent GERD estimates were published in an appendix to the 2010-11 release of Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia (cat. no. 8104.0). The ABS is continuing investigations into if and how GERD will be released in the future.
  • All Research and Experimental Development Surveys
    Fields of research and socio-economic objective data will be collected using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) at the division level (2 digit) only rather than group level (4 digit). Production of outputs at the 4 digit level will no longer be possible. These changes took effect from 2011-12 for the Business sector, and will take effect from 2012-13 for the Government and Private Non-Profit sectors, and from 2014 for the Higher Education sector.

Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity
The 2011-12 Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity, Australia (cat. no. 5678.0) was released on 14 February 2013. Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity (VC&LSPE) is high risk capital directed towards businesses with prospects of rapid growth and/or high rates of returns. It is an investment not only of money, but also of skills and time. This publication presents information on both financial and non-financial contributions to venture capital and later stage private equity investments.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) undertook the first survey of venture capital for the period 1999-2000 and has since undertaken this survey annually with the financial support of the Department of Industry. The ABS has conducted all surveys with the advice and assistance of users of these statistics, industry bodies and data providers.

The recent release found the value of funds committed to Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity (VC&LSPE) investment vehicles increased during 2011-12. As at 30 June 2012, investors had $17,212m committed to investment vehicles, a rise of 10% on the $15,631m committed as at 30 June 2011. Most of the committed funds were sourced domestically, with 87% of commitments from Australian investors (residents) down from 91% as at 30 June 2011. The value of investments as at 30 June 2012 represented 0.48% of GDP, down from 0.62% of GDP at 30 June 2011. Both proportions of Venture Capital investments (0.12% of GDP) and Later Stage Private Equity investments (0.36% of GDP) fell as a proportion of GDP in 2011-12.

Innovation and Technology - National Statistics Centre (NSC)
The key role of the Innovation and Technology Statistics National Statistics Centre (the I&T NSC) is to provide statistical leadership in the field of Innovation, ICT, R&D and VC statistics, and the links to productivity. Within the field of Innovation and Technology statistics, the NSC takes an active role in:
  • Stakeholder engagement - defining user needs and establishing, building, and maintaining close relationships with key stakeholders to influence/achieve progress in the innovation and technology field of statistics
  • International engagement - understanding and development of national and international frameworks and standards (including concepts and classifications); and data, other issues and developments relating to Innovation, ICT and R&D statistics
  • Subject matter expertise / Statistical leadership - maintaining knowledge of relevant contemporary and emerging policy issues, and their potential statistical impacts ahead of expressed user demand
  • Communication of Innovation, ICT and R&D statistics and statistical developments
  • Analytical work - Undertake revolutionary/innovative analysis and research


Product releasesRelease date
Innovation and Technology Update, December 201322 January 2014
Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 5678.0)13 February 2014
Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 8146.0)25 February 2014

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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