Australia is well positioned to capitalise on the next wave of economic growth driven by the emergence of new industries and the expansion of existing industries backed by data and digital technologies.
That’s the view of Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, which is tasked with working with government, industry and university partners to explore economic opportunities driven by data.
“We are moving to a world where we are connecting everything with a CPU and a power supply to the network,” Turner told Which-50.
“We are effectively quantifying all aspects of all industry and what that means is that these industries are going to take on new economic structures that are going to favour the first to scale, not first to market necessarily, but first to scale.”
Through the 90s and 2000s Australia achieved gross national income (GNI) growth as a result of productivity gains and trade growth in commodities. To continue that trajectory Australia needs more of its existing industries scale globally and to develop new industries.
“In both cases data is going to underpin those industries,” Turner said.
While Google, Facebook and Amazon dominate the consumer internet today, the next wave of technology powerhouses will be built on cyber-physical systems — the intersection of IT, biology and material sciences.
“If you look at the big digital and data platforms today, a lot of them a geared around either communication or commerce and I think the next compute cycle is really about cyber physical systems,” Turner said. “It’s the intersection of digital and data in agriculture, healthcare, energy and mining.”
“Those industries are strong industries for Australia today and what we see is the potential to accelerate them by becoming more data-driven.”
For example, in the case of agriculture, by building the capability to guarantee the provenance of the food, Australian exporters will be able to consistently command a premium for their products without fear of goods being switched with counterfeit products on the ground in export countries.
Turner is optimistic Australia is home to the talent and capital required to scale existing more small and medium Australian businesses into global ones.
“We certainly have the capability and the talent, and we can be world-leading in a lot of these emerging areas,” Turner said.
“The money will follow. There is an abundance of capital available globally for good ideas, particularly in this cyber-physical area.”
Turner said one potential source of capital is the ASX. After one year in operation, Data61’s portfolio companies have raised $75m capital and portfolio company Audinate is listing on the ASX this Friday.