Oz needs to focus on research 'gap'

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Oz needs to focus on research 'gap'

New NICTA CTO John Parker believes there is a whole group of Australian innovators who fall into a research 'gap' and are forced to go overseas.

“There’s a huge gap between pure academic research and business research,” said Parker. “Everything else falls through the hole in the middle and gets taken up overseas.”

“Australia misses the people that sit in the gap. In countries with high technological spirit, like the US, there’s a whole pop of people who are comfortable sitting in the gap.”

In his new role as CTO of NICTA, Parker will focus on examining the fundamentals of medical implant technology. He hopes to work on a method that will enable medical implants to work in better synergy with different areas of the body.

He emphasises that this project would not be possible in Australia without the support of NICTA.

“The sorts of things we’re talking about, you have to start from somewhere,” said Parker.

“There’s no venture funding for something like this in Australia, so it’s great to be able to step back and try to make a real change and do a relatively high risk project.”

Parker previously has worked in both the business and academic research sectors, and hopes the upcoming Government Innovation Review will be able to shed some light on some of Australia’s innovation problems and foster big changes.

“Academics blame industry and vice versa, and the Government policy tries to push the two together which I think is the wrong thing to do,” he said. “I think the academics doing its research should be seen as just as important as industry pursuing its own goals.”

“I think our project is one that sits in that gap and I don’t believe you can always drag pure university research towards commercial relevance. I think if you can fund the gap, both sides of research can benefit each other.”
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