8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update, Dec 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/01/2014   
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The Innovation and Technology (I&T) statistics program provides data to assist understanding of the impact of research and experimental development, innovation and new technologies on economic growth, productivity and well-being. In advanced industrial economies, science, technology and innovation have been sources of long-run economic growth and increasing social well-being. Innovation is a key component in making Australia more productive and more competitive. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are important enablers of innovation and contribute to productivity growth. Research and experimental development (R&D) activity is a subset of overall innovative activity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as well as being a provider of statistics, has a coordination and leadership role in identifying current and emerging policy information needs and obtaining stakeholder input to determine statistical priorities.

To fulfil this role, the ABS is developing a Ten Year Plan for I&T statistics; this plan will provide the contextual framework to ensure the ABS is forward-looking and responsive to the changing needs and priorities of the user community. The plan will provide the framework for assessing and incorporating current and future policy information needs and ensure that resources are deployed effectively. A key element of the plan is to strengthen relationships with stakeholders. This will ensure emerging needs and new developments are responded to quickly and sufficient resources are allocated to measuring and evaluating new policy outcomes. The plan's scope includes influencing and responding to international developments on statistical frameworks and the collection of I&T statistics. The plan will also reflect the outcomes of the Essential Statistical Assets (ESA) for Australia initiative.

A discussion paper on the future directions of I&T statistics has been prepared. The paper describes: current and future key priorities and policy; existing available data sources; data gaps and possible solutions to these gaps. It incorporates stakeholder input from the ESA initiative and feedback from the R&D review. The aim of the paper is to seek input from stakeholders to determine current and future I&T statistical priorities. This feedback will be used to finalise the Ten Year Plan. The Australian Statistician makes the final decision on the shape of the program. The discussion paper will be circulated in early 2014.

Feedback from stakeholders will be incorporated into the current draft of the Ten Year Plan and a meeting of the Innovation and Technology Statistics User group (membership by invitation) will be convened to discuss the plan prior to it being finalised. This meeting is proposed to be held prior to the end of the financial year (date yet to be confirmed).

If you wish to be included on the circulation list for the discussion paper, please email innovation.technology@abs.gov.au requesting a copy of the discussion paper.


Over the last eighteen months or so, the ABS has been working in partnership with a range of other Commonwealth Departments and Agencies to develop a plan to enhance the collection, integration, coordination of and access to firm level data. The plan is known as the "Plan to Improve Collection and Coordination of Firm-Level Data" and drivers for the plan include:

    • The need to lift productivity across the Australian economy, underpinned by successful business.
    • To ensure the outcomes of the investment provided by the Commonwealth Government to firms, both financially and through expert advice to improve business performance, are optimal. Using a scientific approach to investigate evidence can lead to policy decisions that are more effective in achieving desired outcomes, as the decisions are based on accurate and meaningful information.
    • Evidence based decision making requires a systematic and rational approach to researching and analysing evidence to inform the policy making process. Currently, the level of data available for analysis and evaluation for policy makers is not well integrated or fit for the purpose of firm level analysis.

The ABS as Australia's independent national statistical agency, an accredited Integrating Authority and leader of the National Statistical Service is well placed to deliver the outcomes sought. The ABS Firm Level Plan (FLP) is a component of the overall plan and will enhance capacity for policy analysis and productivity studies using firm level data. This includes developing infrastructure that will facilitate integration of directly collected and administrative firm level information.

The ABS FLP has four elements – establishing the infrastructure; expanding firm level data holdings through collection and administrative data held by government agencies; enhancing access; and growing analytical capability. To achieve these, the following initiatives are proposed:

    • Creation of a backbone longitudinal dataset for all businesses using administrative data from the ABS Business Register and the Australian Taxation Office. This will include the capability to integrate and link other survey/administrative data held by government agencies.
    • Creation of a synthetic longitudinal business dataset which coupled with improvement in infrastructure provides more options for firm level analysis.
    • Enhancement of the ABS’ Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) including creation of a dedicated longitudinal panel for R&D performers. There will also be more flexibility in content allowing increased capacity to understand exits and entries and better ability to shape panels to meet contemporary policy needs.
    • Enhancement of analytical capability in the ABS and improvement of infrastructure used to access confidentialised micro data.
    • Development of a Linked Longitudinal Employer Employee Database (LLEED) which will support research and analysis for interrelated factors of labour, firms and jobs in the labour market.

Other cross-government initiatives related to the overall plan include developing a set of core data items with standard definitions to be used when collecting information from business for all new business assistance programs. This will require that some of the key performance indicators for all new business assistance programs be based on the core data items and improving the accessibility for evaluation purposes to data collected as part of these programs. Funding is yet to be negotiated.

For more information, please contact the ABS at innovation.technology@abs.gov.au.


In November 2012, the ABS released a consultation paper inviting Australians to comment on the proposals around content and procedures for the 2016 Census. Interested parties were requested to make a submission in accordance with a set of submission guidelines by 31 May 2013. Submissions received by the ABS indicated that the main priority for the internet related topic is a requirement for statistical information on personal use of the internet. As such, the internet topic is currently being reviewed and the case for inclusion of a personal use of the internet question is being developed. The case must demonstrate:
    • The topic is of current national importance and required for an ongoing policy need
    • There is a current need for data on the topic from small population groups and/or at the small area level
    • There are no other suitable alternative data sources available for the topic
    • The topic is suitable for inclusion in the Census and will be understood
    • There is likely to be a continuing need for the data on the topic in the following Census.

The content of the 2016 Census is expected to be known by the end of 2014, and people who have provided submissions will be advised of the outcome at this time.

Further information is available in the Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0).


The ESA for Australia initiative is led by the ABS and is a key National Statistical Service (NSS) strategy. The aim of the initiative is to allow for effective prioritisation of investment, focus and effort within the NSS, by identifying those essential statistical assets which are critical to decision-making in a complex and sometimes fragmented information environment across Australia. The ESA aims to enhance the quality and value of Australia's statistical system to ensure providers and users of statistics have the confidence to trust the statistics produced within it.

Many innovation and technology statistics such as business demography; information technology use and innovation by business; expenditure on research and development; and personal internet access and usage have been identified as essential, and are listed within the economy and society pillars. These statistics are in outputs from the following I&T surveys:
    • Business Characteristics Survey
    • Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Businesses, Government and Private Non-Profit, and Higher Education
    • Internet Activity Survey
    • Household Use of Information Technology.

Phase One of the initiative represented the first holistic assessment of the most essential statistics to meet current user requirements undertaken in Australia. The resulting 2013 list of ESA for Australia was developed through consultation with the community as well as users and producers of official statistics in Australia.

Phase Two of the project involves the undertaking of a quality assessment process. This will provide a more in-depth consideration of Australia’s essential statistical assets in order to understand how well the currently produced information meets the critical needs of users. It will also highlight gaps within the existing statistics. All of the I&T statistics currently produced have been recognised as critical under the ESA for Australia initiative and will undergo the quality assessment process.

In its capacity as the national statistics office, the ABS will lead the quality assessment process. When a statistical asset involves a producer and/or data custodian other than the ABS, the quality assessment will be conducted in collaboration between the data custodian and the ABS to produce an agreed quality assessment.

Further information is available in Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2013 (cat. no. 1395.0).


The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is an annual survey and it 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).

Data for the 2012-13 reference year will be released in the following publications:


The Internet Activity Survey (IAS) is conducted twice a year and covers internet subscribers as at end June and December, and download activity in the three months April to June and October to December. The survey collects subscriber information from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with more than 1,000 subscribers. The most recent edition includes information on: internet subscribers and their type of connection; the type of user (business/household); the volume of data downloaded; the speed of the internet connection; and the location of the subscriber (by state or territory). For example, the three months between April and June 2013, the total volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets was 19,636 terabytes, which is a 43 percent increase from the previous period of October to December 2012. Data from the IAS is used by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (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 December 2013 edition is due to be released on 8 April 2014.


The suite of R&D surveys covers four sectors: business, higher education, government and private non-profit organisations.

Data from the latest Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia (cat. no. 8104.0) survey was released on the 6 September 2013. In future, the business collection will be run every two years, with the next reference year being 2013-14.

There are two upcoming releases for R&D:
Please also note that neither release will include a pdf version of the publication.

Work is also underway to produce an estimate for the Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) for 2011-12. It is still to be decided if the estimate will be included as an appendix to one of the two identified upcoming releases or whether it will return to being its own release. Investigations are also continuing on how to best measure GERD estimates into the future as the collection reference periods for all of the individual sectors are no longer aligned.

For more information or for queries relating to R&D, please contact the ABS at innovation.technology@abs.gov.au.


Venture capital and later stage private equity 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 the financial support of 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 next release of the survey, for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013, is due to be released on 13 February 2014. The release presents information on both financial and non-financial contributions to venture capital and later stage private equity investments.

Further information is available in Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity, Australia (cat. no. 5678.0).


Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT) presents estimates on household and personal use of information technology in Australia and is released every two years.

Access to the internet at home improves the ability of individuals to stay in contact with family and friends, to belong to and communicate with like-minded groups, irrespective of their physical location. It allows access to a variety of up-to-date news, information, education, entertainment and government and business services that might not be available in another format. As such, indicators of internet access are an important measure of societal well-being. These statistics are reported to international bodies including the OECD and the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (UN ITU). Government also use these statistics to measure progress and impacts of the digital economy and its related infrastructure.

The results of the 2012-13 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0), are set to be released on 25 February 2014 and will cover topics such as:
    • Home access to the internet
    • Frequency of home internet use and type of activities
    • Other locations where participants accessed the internet
    • Online purchases of goods and services, type of goods and services purchased, and the main reason for not purchasing goods and services online.


The 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) was conducted throughout Australia during the period August 2012 to March 2013, and was released on 13 November 2013. The 2012 survey collected information to:
    • Measure the prevalence of disability in Australia
    • Measure the need for support of older people and those with disability
    • Estimate the number of and provide information about people who provide care to older people and people with disabilities
    • Provide a demographic and socio-economic profile of people with disabilities, older people and carers compared with the general population.
The survey also asks the population of persons aged 15 years or more with a disability and persons aged 65 years or more, questions relating to their computer and internet access and use.

More information is available in the Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0).


The latest issue of the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard was released in the second half of 2013. The 260 indicators in the STI Scoreboard 2013 show how OECD and partner economies are performing in a wide range of areas to help governments design more effective and efficient policies and monitor progress towards their desired goals. The STI Scoreboard is published every other year, alternately with the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook.