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Innovation reality in UK, US & Australia

UK SMEs are in a similar boat in many respects to those in Australia as regards difficulties with innovation. Think about unhelpful tax policies, misguided investment of public funds in research at universities, and the low levels of government attention to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

These are key messages I read into a recent press release by the SME Innovation Alliance ("SMEIA"), a new UK business organisation formed in September 2009.

You can read the SMEIA press release in the multi-author IPKat intellectual property law blog. That version is annotated with witty responses in bold text by Jeremy Philips. Here's the link: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2009/10/british-smes-on-warpath.html. Phillips is one of the most prolific, and in my view respected, intellectual property law academics writing in English over recent decades. He provides the backbone of writing on the IPKat blog.

In Australia, with its relatively small population in a huge land, we have to dig deep for evidence to help build a sense of the local business reality. Digging is critical.

As we dig, unavoidably we have to identify and weed out United States data, opinion and perspectives. U.S. sources heavily influence under-researched reporting and world views in Australia. With regular weeding reality emerges about innovation for SMEs in Australia.

The reality is it is tough being an SME innovator in Australia.

At Lightbulb, an Australian IP law and commercialisation blog, we've written many Australian SME success stories and case studies. They are balanced with articles on Australian SME business failures, obstacles and waste. It's that reality which needs solutions. To quote an electronics and equipment manufacturing client of ours: "If you are serious about your manufacturing business, you would not manufacture in Australia."

As I was writing this article an online friend pointed me to The Washing Post's short news article containing remarkable data in its first paragraph:

"The Commerce Department will establish a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to help small businesses grow faster, part of the Obama administration's new $100 billion innovation agenda announced earlier this week. The administration is especially interested in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs as statistics suggest businesses less than five years old accounted for nearly all private sector employment growth from 1980 to 2005."

For our digging and weeding it helps to have the resource of Recert. The aim of this start-up is to be an "industry focussed R&D information resource portal". I've happily agreed to contribute writing for its blog, in part to help cut through innovation hype and misinformation in Australia.


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