8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update, Jun 2014  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/07/2014   
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The possibility of creating a Linked Employer-Employee Dataset (LEED) is currently the basis of a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Using Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and ABS data, the study uses a prototype LEED to analyse both employee and firm characteristics to identify factors that explain differences in firm productivity. The micro-data was created by linking de-identified personal income tax data from the ATO with the ABS Business Longitudinal Dataset (2010–11). The study demonstrates the analytical potential of the prototype LEED by constructing multilevel models to describe employer and employee characteristics of productive firms. The hierarchical structure of the prototype LEED lends itself to using multilevel models to capture the dynamics between firms and employees.

A paper discussing the study was presented by ABS at the 2014 Asia Pacific Productivity Conference in Brisbane. The event is a major conference in the area of productivity and efficiency analysis. The main objective of presenting this paper was to increase awareness among the research community of the prototype LEED and the potential of a full LEED for productivity analysis.

This ABS paper was also one of a number of issues discussed at a recent ABS workshop where Dr Julia Lane, international expert on LEED development, met with ABS LEED stakeholders. Dr Lane, of the American Institutes for Research, was pivotal in the development of the Linked Employer-Household Dynamics (LEDH) in the United States of America and the LEED (NZ). Dr Lane shared her experience and made suggestions for future action. Dr Lane was also in Australia for the first ever joint meetings of the Australian Conference of Economists (ACE) and Econometric Society Australasian Meeting (ESAM) held in Hobart, Tasmania and hosted by the University of Tasmania on 1–4 July 2014.


The annual Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is the vehicle for the ABS' Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS). The strategy integrates the collection and quality assurance of data required for input into both the ABS' Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and the production of point in time estimates for: use of information technology; innovation; and a broad range of other non-financial characteristics. A key part of the IBCS is the production of annual use of information technology and innovation indicators, with a more detailed set of items for each of these topics collected every second year (i.e. in alternating years).

The 2011–12 BCS collected detailed information relating to the use of information technology by Australian businesses: see Business Use of Information Technology, 2011–12 (cat. no. 8129.0). The 2012-13 BCS collected information on innovation practices for Australian businesses; a detailed release, an update of the Innovation in Australian Business (cat. no. 8158.0), will occur on 21 August 2014.

For the 2013-14 BCS, the IT use module will include new questions on use of cloud computing services and social media.

Innovation data content for the BCS is reviewed every 4 years and the next review will commence in September 2014. Users will be consulted, and their feedback sought, between October and November 2014 regarding:

  • relevance and currency of existing innovation content in the BCS;
  • existing and emerging user requirements for innovation indicators in Australia; and
  • directions in development on innovation indicator collection and survey methodology from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    Feedback from this consultation process will be incorporated as appropriate into the development of the 2014–15 BCS survey questionnaire in early 2015. For the 2014–15 reference period, the survey will be in the field from October 2015 to March 2016, with results published progressively from June 2016.


    The results of the biennial 2012-13 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0), were released on 25 February 2014 showing over three quarters (76 per cent) of Australia's 15.4 million internet users made a purchase or order over the internet.

    Travel, accommodation, memberships or tickets of any kind were the most common type of purchase for both males and females. The second most popular online shopping items for females were clothes, cosmetics or jewellery (59 per cent), in comparison to males second most popular purchases of CDs, music, DVDs, videos, books or magazines (50 per cent).

    The two most popular activities performed on the internet at home were paying bills or banking online and social networking. Social networking was more common for younger people: 90 per cent of 15 to 17 year olds and 92 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds performed this activity.

    The data collection phase of the 2014-15 Household Use of IT survey commenced in July 2014 and will continue until June 2015 with results expected to be released in February 2016.


    The Internet Activity Survey (IAS) is conducted twice a year and covers Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with more than 1,000 subscribers as at end June and December. The most recent edition (released December 2013) includes information on: internet subscribers and their type of connection; the type of user (business and government/household); the volume of data downloaded; the advertised download speed of the internet connection; and the location of the subscriber (by state or territory).

    A key finding from the December 2013 release was an increase in mobile handset usage. Australia's 20.3 million mobile handset subscribers downloaded over 27,000 Terabytes in the three months ended 31 December 2013, which is a 41 per cent increase from the three months ended June 2013. This equates to 0.5GB of data downloaded per subscriber each month.

    Additionally, in December 2013, there were over 2 million Australian internet subscribers accessing download speeds of 24Mbps or greater, which is an additional 443,000 subscribers accessing the internet using the fastest speed range compared to the previous year.

    Data from the IAS is used by the OECD in their broadband statistics which can be found in the OECD Broadband Portal (latest release 9 January 2014).

    Further information on this survey is available in Internet Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8153.0). The next release, in respect of June 2014 data, is scheduled for 7 October 2014.


    The suite of Research and Experimental Development (R&D) surveys covers four sectors: business; higher education; government and private non-profit organisations.

    R&D, as collected by the ABS, is defined in accordance with the OECD standard 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'.

    R&D statistics produced by the ABS enable the nature and distribution of R&D activity in Australia to be monitored and analysed for policy formulation, allocation of funds and determination of research priorities. The major users of R&D data are Commonwealth and State government organisations, international organisations such as the OECD, businesses and economists.

    Key outputs for R&D statistics include total expenditure on R&D and total human resources devoted to R&D. Expenditure data are classified by industry, type of expenditure, source of funds, location of expenditure, type of activity, fields of research and socio-economic objective. Human resources devoted to R&D are classified by type of resource.

    The most recent Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8111.0), for the 2012 calendar year, was released in May 2014. This release included an estimate of Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) for the 2011–12 financial year. The next reference period for the biennial higher education survey will be the 2014 calendar year.

    The latest release of Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8109.0), for the 2012–13 financial year, was released in July 2014. Following this release, the government and private non-profit survey will return to a biennial frequency, with the next reference period being the 2014–15 financial year.

    The next Research and Experimental Development, Businesses survey will be for the 2013-14 reference year and will be dispatch in January 2015 with results expected in September 2015.


    Venture capital and later stage private equity (VCLSPE) is high risk capital directed towards businesses with prospects of rapid growth and/or high rates of returns. It is an investment in not only money, but also of skills and time.

    The ABS first conducted the survey of venture capital for the period 1999–2000 and has since undertaken the survey annually with financial support from the Department of Industry. These statistics are used by analysts in both the public and private sector to address policy issues and monitor changes in the industry.

    The 2014 release, presented information on both financial and non-financial contributions to VCLSPE investments. Findings showed that new capital committed to Australian VCLSPE funds decreased by 77 per cent ($2.4 billion) in the 2012–13 financial year, the largest decrease since this data was first collected in the 2004–05 financial year.

    Despite difficult fundraising conditions, existing investments performed strong during the 2012–13 financial year. Ongoing investments are revalued each year and 2014 resulted in an increase of $906 million, which is the highest figure in over 10 years.

    The 2013-14 financial year survey will be dispatched in August 2014 with results released in February 2015.

    Further details can be found on the ABS website in Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity, Australia (cat. no. 5678.0),