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The secrets of innovation revealed

08 March, 2012

A research team from the University of Ballarat has completed a ground-breaking study into what makes Australian companies become innovative.

The research team was headed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Schools and Programs) Professor Andrew Smith and included Associate Professor Jerry Courvisanos and Dr Jackie Tuck of the Business School at UB and Dr Steven McEachern from the Australian National University.

The research was published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

Titled 'Building the capacity to innovate: the role of human capital', the report describes the results from a two-year research program into the role that better management practices play in making companies more innovative.

"What we found is that good people management is central to developing the capacity of companies to innovate effectively," Professor Smith said.

"We are in the middle of a resources boom but our long term economic future depends on becoming smarter and more innovative in the ways we do things. People are central to building companies' capacity to innovate."

Professor Smith said the key to unlocking the innovative potential of companies was to adopt better human resource management practices and to foster a culture of learning and development.

"We need to develop the human capital of companies, not just the physical capital," Professor Smith said.

"A major way for companies to do this and promote innovation is through forging close and strong links with the education system, especially with universities and TAFE Institutes.

"This is where the role of regional universities such as the University of Ballarat is crucial in fostering local innovation. A good example of this in Ballarat is the University's Technology Park which brings business and the university together."

Funding for the report was provided by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The report is available from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research at www.ncver.edu.au.

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