While research has an important role to play, it is only one in a range of factors that contribute to the process of innovation that universities need to foster, according to Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber.


Speaking at the Australia-China University Leaders Forum in Canberra earlier this week, Professor Barber spoke of the need of Australia and China aim towards mutual improvements in their national innovations systems.


While research may ultimately lead to discoveries, successful innovation relies as much on design, marketing and development of supportive business models and processes said Professor Barber.


This is particularly the case in service economies such as Australia’s or to which China aspires,” he said.


There are ways by which university cultures can facilitate innovation in a bid to reproduce such success, Professor Barber said.


“As well as introducing flexibility, responsiveness and adaptability, universities need to adopt an outward focus that is collaborative and engaged in genuine partnerships with external agents in the innovation system, such as firms and service agencies,” he said.


“There has to be a keenness to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by those partners and a willingness to let such partners influence (and even help set) the resulting research agenda.”