Aus4Innovation launch

  • Speech, check against delivery
08 November 2017

JULIE BISHOP: Minister Anh, Ambassador Chittick, friends of Vietnam, friends of Australia. I am delighted to be here, during the ASEAN 2017 meeting in De Nang. The scale and pace of technological advances are unprecedented, disrupting how we live apart, work, travel and communicate.

While our two nations are at different stages of social and economic development, we both know that innovation and an embrace of technology must be at the heart of our economic policies – to drive growth, job opportunities and prosperity. Hence our announcement today of an Australian-Vietnam Innovation Partnership.

This is part of the Australian Government's Global Innovation Strategy, to combine our expertise in the public and private sector with developing countries to ensure that we can share in the benefits of the prosperity and productivity that comes from embracing the opportunities that technological advances bring.

The Aus4Innovation program is a $10 million investment over four years by the Australian Government. We have, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, an innovation hub called the InnovationXchange - and this is an idea I had a number of years ago - that we needed to change the way we thought about delivering foreign aid for overseas development assistance. We couldn't continue to invest money without getting better outcomes - and how do you get better outcomes? You think innovatively, you find better and more productive and efficient and effective ways to achieve outcomes.

Our InnovationXchange has held a number of global competitions - solve-a-thons, hack-a-thons, whatever they like to call them - and we put out the seed funding and send ideas out to the global community to solve some intractable aid issues, and then the ideas that come back from all over the world can be analysed, targeted, scaled up if they work.

So we want to bring this approach to our innovation partnership with Vietnam, and the funding that I've announced today will assist us in two streams: there will be grants for education and business - and we've seen some of the marvellous examples of young people using technology as part of their basic education. There'll also be a stream of science and industry, which is ensuring that we can commercialise the ideas that our innovators and our entrepreneurs are able to devise. We've seen some examples again today with the microchips in the prawns to drive productivity in aquaculture; the entrepreneurs from the Mekong Business Initiative, where small businesses, female entrepreneurs with some assistance are able to devise products for sale, for export, and thus drive economic growth; to the Smart Cities initiative, which is a brilliant way of harnessing technology to make our cities more secure, more productive, and add to the overall economic prosperity of the country.

The first initiative that our Aus4Innovation will undertake is with CSIRO's Data61. This is a data analytical group that analyses trends that focus on how technology can be harnessed. They look at the challenges; they look at the opportunities and provide that analysis of the data that we need to understand the changes that are underway in our world. And we'll be looking at the future of work: how we can ensure that young people have the capability, the capacity, the skills for the jobs of the future? It's been estimated that half of the school children in the world today will be in a job that has not yet been thought of when they leave school so we need to prepare for that world of the future, and I'm absolutely delighted that our Data61 project will be done here in Vietnam under the Aus4Innovation program. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to launch, with the Minister for Science and Innovation, the Aus4Innovation partnership here in Vietnam and may we see many wonderful ideas come to fruition from the mutual effort of our relationship.

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