8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Nov 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/05/2000   
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5.1 Further Analysis of Innovation Data
5.2 Research Into Collection of Innovation Statistics

The Innovation Survey Group has now conducted two rounds of innovation surveys. The first was in respect of 1993-94 and the second in respect of 1996-97. Both surveys were mainly concerned with details of the innovation process in the Manufacturing industries, however, the 1993-94 survey also included some information in respect of other industries.

The second round of surveys was developed using the first round as a starting point (to allow comparability over time) but drew on the latest international experience (as presented in the OECD's Oslo Manual) and included a number of experimental questions which were used for the first time in Australia.

The types of information available from the 1996-97 manufacturing survey include:

  • the level and types of innovation in Australian manufacturing;
  • some characteristics of innovating businesses;
  • the innovation capabilities of manufacturers;
  • the impact of innovation on the business;
  • qualitative aspects of innovative manufacturers; and
  • case studies of implemented innovations.

Results from the surveys are available in the following publications:
  • 8116.0 Innovation in Manufacturing
  • 8121.0 Innovation in Mining
  • 8118.0 Innovation in Selected Industries.

5.1 Further analysis of innovation data

The Innovation Survey group will shortly commence a research project involving analysis of a large amount of innovation data. One of the aims will be to determine whether there is a link between innovation and business productivity and profitability. To date, most countries' analysis of their innovation data has been restricted to fairly simple procedures such as quantifying rates of innovation within industries.

Some of the types of questions we hope this analysis will help answer include:
  • Do innovative businesses perform better than non-innovative businesses (both economically and in terms of employment growth)?
  • Does the type of innovation (technological/non-technological) affect the performance of businesses?
  • Is there a difference between industries and/or size of businesses in terms of innovation performance?

5.2 Research into collection of innovation statistics

In the next month or so, we will start examining collection issues associated with innovation statistics. Most countries which conduct innovation surveys have experienced methodological and conceptual problems of some sort. While Australia's collections have avoided many of these problems, some questions remain. They include:
  • How can we best measure innovative activities in service industries?
  • Can we measure the links between innovative activities and outcomes such as higher profitability?
  • How should we define various types of innovation and can we develop sound indicators of the intensity of innovative activity?
  • What is the best way to define and measure non-technological forms of innovation?