Microsoft report: Australia can learn from innovation hotspot Massachusetts


news Microsoft has released its latest Joined-Up Innovation report which highlights the key lessons learned from a fact-finding expedition to see how the US state of Massachusetts is rapidly becoming a notable hotspot for innovation.

The new report is titled Accelerating Australia’s innovation ecosystem: Lessons from Boston and recommendations for a unique path forward and can be viewed here.

Microsoft said that 20 Australian politicians – including Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy – and academics and business people attended a tour of Boston and neighbouring Cambridge. While there they visited local facilities and met a range of experts to find out how the state is reinventing itself as a major innovation centre to rival Silicon Valley and other global hotspots.

The tour was part of Microsoft’s on-going Joined-Up Innovation campaign, which addresses Australia’s urgent need to strengthen and future-proof its economy through world-leading innovation.

The ingredients the group identified in Boston’s ‘secret sauce’ include an aspirational and collaborative culture, visionary urban planning and supportive government policies.

The group concluded that, to remain globally competitive and maintain its high standard of living, Australia must quickly become a more innovation-driven economy.

That will involve identifying the conditions required for competitive, high-value businesses to thrive, the statement said. It also means capitalising on today’s high level of interest in innovation and the role that governments, businesses, educational and research institutions, and individuals can play.

Based on what they saw and learned in Massachusetts, participants suggested a number of steps Australians can take towards creating a more innovative business environment – both as a nation and within their own organisations.

These included:

  • Making innovation a national economic priority, at a national, state and city level
  • Increasing efforts to create innovation-heavy districts, especially within cities, including by making appropriate spaces available within publicly and privately owned facilities
  • Encouraging collaboration between all elements of Australia’s innovation ecosystem
  • Reforming work visa arrangements to attract globally mobile entrepreneurs and inventors.

“Put simply, we need a strong and coherent innovation vision for Australia and to make sure all parts of the innovation ecosystem are ‘Joined-Up’ to ensure the country’s future economic competitiveness,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Assistant Minister for Innovation, Wyatt Roy welcomed the report, saying that Boston had embraced innovation, technology and entrepreneurialism as a pathway to future growth.

“There were certainly some lessons in how to transform to an innovation-led economy,” Roy said. “In Boston, there is a real effort around culture, capital, talent, collaboration and government leading by example. These are certainly the focal points that we should be working towards in Australia.

Roy spoke of the need to find a distinctly Australian model for innovation: “We have so many natural advantages that we can draw on – including our enviable lifestyle and proximity to Asia.”

“It’s now a matter of getting the policy settings and culture right, in order to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and the connecting of various parts of the innovation ecosystem,” he said. “The Australian government believes an innovation-led economy is vital to our nation’s future.”

Image credit: Mike Mozart, Creative Commons


  1. I found the information around how Boston and Cambridge approached things very interesting but more so the comparison in size of the city/region/state to NSW etc. from a $ perspective and that there are challenges that they need to overcome that NSW similarly has.

    All in all, there are a lot of people, from a lot of different walks of life that need to pull their proverbial fingers (and we as entrepreneurs too) if we want to benefit from what “innovation” can bring.

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