It's always very exciting to see what clever new ideas people have generated, and it is doubly exciting when these innovations have a positive impact on human health, environmental health, and productivity.
It is good to know that industries that aren't necessarily the biggest polluters are still driven to find innovation, to operate in a more environmentally responsible manner, and to be rewarded for it. Research that is taking place at Murdoch university is ticking all these boxes - lower emissions from piggeries, lower costs for the business involved, a new, better and gentler food source for the pigs, and complementary improvements for crop fertilisation which is cheaper, better and relieves less on artificial fertilizers. A great story.
The benefits of Solar Thermal are undeniable - technology proven by the fact that there are a number of fully operational plants in California and Spain. It has the added benefit of being able to provide power when the sun goes down, it is a plentiful, clean resource, and it is very accessible to a number of marginalised communities - those looking to transition out of old industries that have died.... that is why Port Augusta is such a great location for such a project.
If you want to do your bit to help Port Augusta step into the new economy, you can sign the Australian Youth Climate Coalition's petition and show your support here.
3D printing is a truly incredible technology with applications across so many areas of human endeavour - from manufacturing to health care. While being able to print organs and replace organ transplantation and remove the need for donors (of which there are never enough) is still some way off, it's a technology which seems within reach. There was a fantastic story on the ABC news site recently which showed how far we have come, and how far we still have to go - but it is exciting just the same.
Innovation occurs when people who don't usually speak to each other, start to. Google (the great innovation company) has designed its headquarters so that people can't help bumping into each other regularly, and finds ways that encourages them to talk and collaborate. The best work of architect Allejandro Aravena began when he began talking to people who weren't architects and when he started working in spaces where architects didn't traditionally operate.
You can watch his TED talk by clicking on the video below,
Where this leads us (on a Greens blog site) is.... what to make of Malcolm Turnbull's innovation policy.
One look at the policy document and it seems it is focused on the beneficial outcomes (which are undeniable) and not on effectively supporting the processes that lead to innovation.
The final table in the innovation statement is also instructive - 19 out of the 25 program initiatives have absolutely no funding this financial year, and 7 initiatives have no funding next financial year. In fact 86% of the announced funding doesn't come until after July 2017. With two budgets to be announced between now and them, time will tell as to how much of this will even eventuate.
Further criticism of this do next to nothing plan can be found in Nick Feik's article in The Monthly.
Sadly Malcolm Turnbull seems to be the kind of Innovation PM that Tony Abbott was for Infrastructure - Abbott talked about infrastructure a great deal but funded next to no infrastructure unless it was a road, while Turnbull talks about being excited, loosens bankruptcy laws (which can be helpful but may also be open to rorting), spruiks the importance of the CSIRO and our education institutions but in the next breath undercuts it by - massive cuts at the CSIRO, maintaining Abbott's $80B in cuts to Education and Health (the great nurseries of high value innovation)
You actually need to invest in innovation, you need to be prepared to accept that not many of the ideas that you fund will be highly successful or will directly or immediately lead to higher profits for business. And you need to remember that the few that do succeed will repay you many times over and more than make up for those which didn't. This is the approach government should take because industry rarely will.
That approach sounds nothing like what the Turnbull government has in mind.. which isn't very exciting.
by Mark Enders
The Townsville Greens will publish blogs considered to be of merit. The opinions expressed are those of the Author.