The Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) has released its Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016 (ISR System Review). It finds that while the Australian system has points of strength, as a nation we must make significant improvements to surpass our international competitors in key areas.

The review establishes a new performance framework that conceptualises the ISR System as comprised of interactions between actors (including business, investors, researchers and policymakers) and enablers (money, skills, networks, policy, infrastructure and culture) that produce our innovation outcomes.

ISA is an independent statutory board which provides strategic advice to the Government on all science, research and innovation matters. The ISA was established in December 2015 as one of the 24 measures in the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

Key findings relating to Australia’s intellectual property (IP) system


  • Our IP system incentivises the creation and application of new knowledge by granting legal protection to the creators of new ideas. Patents are the most commonly used IP right as a proxy measure for the innovation or commercialisation of science.
  • From 2014 to 2015 there was a 10 per cent increase in domestically filed applications for standard patents, reflecting an upward trend over the past decade.
  • In 2014 Australians filed over four times as many standard patent applications abroad as they filed domestically, reflecting the jurisdictional nature of the IP rights system and the size of the Australian market.
  • Australia is ranked 14 out of 20 OECD+ countries for trade mark applications filed, just below the OECD+ average. Trade marks are an important indicator for innovation in heavily services based economies (such as the Australian economy).
  • Businesses claim there are protracted timelines in negotiating IP agreements. IP Toolkit is expected to help negotiations.


  • An appropriate balance between too little and too much protection is yet to be reached, as discovered in the most recent Productivity Commission report on IP arrangements.
  • Australia has relatively strong copyright and patent rights compared to other countries and our IP arrangements have been criticised for overprotecting rights holders.
  • Our copyright system has progressively expanded and protects works longer than necessary to encourage creative endeavours.
  • Our IP system grants patent protection too easily and this has allowed a proliferation of low-quality patents (particularly innovation patents).
  • Australia has no overarching IP policy framework to guide changes to IP protection in the context of international trade negotiations.

On a broader scale, results show Australia has innovative small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as some highly innovative sectors. Australia’s economic performance has been strong compared to other nations, however there has been a slowdown in productivity growth. This is predicted to improve in the long-term as the ISR System Review is the first step in the ISA’s work to develop a strategic plan to 2030, which will be delivered to government in the last quarter of 2017.

More information

8 February 2017