news The founder of Australia’s first venture capital company, Bill Ferris, AC, has been appointed Chair of Innovation Australia.
Ferris will head the independent body over three years and will play a key role in the Australian government’s new focus on innovation, a statement issued by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne yesterday said.
Innovation Australia is an independent statutory body established to assist with the administration and oversight of the Australian Government’s industry innovation and venture capital programmes.
Ferris is a 45-year veteran of private equity in Australasia, having founded Australia’s first venture capital firm in 1970. He has been the Executive Chairman of CHAMP Private Equity since its formation in 2000, and of its predecessor, Australian Mezzanine Investments Pty Ltd (AMIL), which he co-founded in 1987. He is also the author of three books.
In his statement, Pyne said: “Innovation is critical to economic development. Australia has strengths but also some challenges. That’s why the government is developing an Innovation and Science Agenda to focus on this key driver of our economy.”
“Mr Ferris is the right person to lead Innovation Australia in developing a more innovative culture. A former Chair of Austrade and for 12 years the Chair of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Bill is a highly respected veteran of venture capital and private equity in Australasia … Bill has been a key adviser as we develop the Innovation and Science Agenda, and will continue to be so as we work to implement it.”
Pyne explained that the government had committed to making innovation a key element of its economic agenda. Furthermore, it plans to create an environment that provides clear pathways and incentives for Australia’s business to innovate.
This will include investing in “key enablers of innovation like science, research, education and infrastructure, as well as providing the right financial, regulatory, and tax settings to enable businesses to experiment, test and market new ideas”.
“Boosting innovation and entrepreneurship will create jobs and stimulate growth, and will position Australian businesses to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities.” said Pyne.
Ferris spoke of the need to raise national awareness of the important role innovation must play in Australia’s future prosperity and “the actions necessary for that to be possible”.
“I have long been a champion of the need for greater government and private sector effort in the commercialisation of our research discoveries and inventions,” he said.
“Now with the Prime Minister’s and Minister Pyne’s expressed determination to make innovation core to the Government’s economic policies, I relish the opportunity as Chair of Innovation Australia to assist in identifying what changes are necessary for meaningful improvement in commercialisation and how to best get on with it right away.”
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting, Innovation Australia