Australia is committed to finding innovative solutions that support inclusive and sustainable economic growth across our region.
Within 15 years, Australia could become the first country to eradicate cervical cancer. This achievement is within our reach because of the HPV vaccine, a life-changing innovation first developed more than 25 years ago in Australia together with interventions such as screening for early detection.
Innovation is central to improving the lives of people across the Indo-Pacific region. As the department of foreign affairs and trade’s chief innovation officer and chief scientist, it is my job to build innovation culture into the way we do our foreign policy and deliver international development initiatives.
Australia is proud to be an innovation success story. Billions of people globally enjoy the benefit of Wi-Fi — an Australian invention. Wireless Internet has revolutionised the way we communicate, do business and deliver essential services such as education.
Similarly, Australian innovations in health have improved countless lives. Spray-on-skin was a revelation for burn victims. The “bionic ear” implant has brought hearing to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. And the ultrasound machine vastly improved pre-natal care.
I am proud, both as a scientist and a representative of the Australian government, of the contributions Australian innovators have made to society.
Australia is committed to finding innovative solutions that support inclusive and sustainable economic growth across our region. For example, we have funded initiatives that improve access to finance for small businesses. And through our support for the Commonwealth Digital Identity Initiative, we are helping people across our region, especially women, access essential services through provision of ID documents.
I am thrilled to be in India to observe the vibrant Indian innovation landscape. I will be in Hyderabad to visit innovation hubs, start-up incubators and researchers working on agricultural productivity. I will see for myself the benefit of Australia’s investment in innovative educational solutions in schools in Ahmedabad. And I will come to New Delhi to meet with my government counterparts and speak at the CyFy conference.
I particularly look forward to engaging with Indian women working in science, technology, engineering and maths. I truly believe inclusive societies, where all people have equal opportunities to pursue their chosen career, produce the most impressive innovations.
India is a very important partner for Australia on innovation. India’s start-up sector is world class and, like India’s population, the market for innovative solutions for social and business problems is huge. It is no surprise companies from around the world are competing to enter the Indian market.
As more Indians go online, India will grow to be the largest population of digitally connected people. India’s market for consumer technologies and the masses of data created will be an important asset that will require careful management.
In recent years, we have observed a marked increase in the pace of technological change. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and quantum computing will all contribute to reshaping the way we do business and live our lives.
These innovations will be essential to economic growth and poverty reduction. We are seeing innovations that improve agricultural productivity and water efficiency, online payment systems and credit schemes allowing low-income families to grow their businesses and technological solutions that bring health and education services to rural areas.
Though in order for us to enjoy the benefits of technological advances, we must ensure there are rules to govern new technology. Technology should be open, inclusive and transparent. We don’t want to see technology used coercively or exclusively by countries or companies.
Australia wants to work with India to support the development of innovative technological solutions to our world’s problems. Whether it be in high tech labs in one of India’s big cities or on a small farm — innovation allows us to improve the way we do things.
India’s size and geopolitical heft means its perspective will always matter in global debates about the future of technology. Australia brings a strong track record as a leader in global debates on norms and rules and has significant technological expertise. We should work together and build a partnership based on practical cooperation that can be harnessed to shape international norms and standards for future technology.