The Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) researches key issues in the areas of innovation performance, economic development, and policies to encourage and support innovation in both the public and business sectors. The Centre also conducts research into the evaluation of the impacts of government policy to support innovation.
The AIRC has a comprehensive understanding of innovation in Tasmania, having completed two rounds of the Tasmanian Innovation Census (2007 and 2010). The two Censuses provided a detailed survey of Tasmanian businesses' innovative activities in all sectors of the economy. The most recent Census, with a response rate of over 61%, generated unique data resources unmatched by any other State or Territory in Australia. This has allowed the AIRC to not only conduct academic research, but also inform policies that support innovation at the regional, state and federal government levels.
The AIRC's contribution to the development of innovation policy was highlighted most recently in 2010, with the release of (then) Premier David Bartlett's Innovation Strategy for Tasmania. The Strategy identified a number of areas of growth in Tasmania. Innovation and development in these sectors could maximise their economic potential.
The public sector is also embracing the value of innovation. Senior AIRC staff advise the Technical Reference Group of the Austraian Public Sector Innovation Indicators (APSII) project, and also work on the European Public Sector Innovation Survey (EPSIS) project. The Innovation Development Early Assessment System (IDEAS) has been adapted to the public sector, and provides a means of identifying ideas with genuine merit in that sector.
A major concern for public policy agencies is to determine if government policies aimed at supporting innovation are in fact effective and able to meet their goals. This has led to increasing government interest, both at the state and national level, in policy evaluation and impact assessment.
Impact assessment involves the measurement and assessment of government projects, programmes and policies against predetermined goals and objectives. For example, it can provide evidence regarding the economic, social and environmental sustainability and effectiveness of government interventions, programmes and policies; ensure that such interventions are transparent and promote public participation; and identify areas requiring follow-up or procedural amendment.
The AIRC is currently working with the Tasmanian State Government to explore ways in which evaluation processes can be built into the implementation phase of Government programmes and initiatives.
The AIRC conducts other innovation-relevant activities, including a Seminar Series which explores innovation in a diverse range of fields, and a PhD program, where the role of innovation in various sectors is examined at a more detailed level.