[LINK] Gittins on the IT record...
Tue, 10 Oct 2000 16:14:05 +1000
Good points, Glen.
I also want to look at the issue from a different angle: one of the reasons US
companies are getting benefit _now_ from R&D is that they own the patents from
deades of that investment ... eg: the quantum well laser, patented to Bell Labs
in the very early 70s, is only now becoming a deployable technology in optics.
The point is that the benefit derives from the company owning the technology -
that's where the higher ROI for shareholders comes from.
Now, on the one hand I'm uncomfortable if .gov.au hands out money to develop a
tech, which is then owned by the recipient of the funding -- they're frankly
sucking two teats on the one cow. But if .gov.au owns the tech, then won't that
mean the R&D outputs won't reflect in corporate profits (therefore not directly
helping the $au)?
So - on what basis should we discriminate between what gets .gov.au funding and
what should be left to the private sector?
Subject: Re: [LINK] Gittins on the IT record...
Author: "Glen Turner" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 10/10/00 2:01
> I have to agree here. When I hear arguments that governments should pay
> to become more profitable (by investing in "innovation"), I ask "isn't that
> the business should be doing already?"
>From my experience in working in public sector research and
private sector electronics and software development, the
problem usually isn't government failing to foster innovation,
but the government actively being hostile to innovation.
You can see this now in the government's moves to outsource
CSIRO's IT infrastructure. Yes, it's politically expedient,
it may save money (but probably won't) but it definitely won't
foster the innovative use of computing within the nation's
premier public research body. And computing is as fundmental
to modern research as are test tubes.
Gittins is right about the "handout" mentality of Australian
business. I've worked in companies where projects were sold
to the beancounters on the basis of taxation advantage. But
that doesn't necessarily mean that those projects are worthless.
You use the most convincing argument for your audience: tax
to beancounters, visibility and market share to PR people,
new revenue sources to CEOs and so on.
Accountants have too much influence over the conduct of business
affairs in Australia, so without the tax break a lot less projects
would get up. Accountants are insanely risk averse. The tax break
lessens the risk to the point that the accountants alone can't kill a
Since the lessening of the tax break, I've seen a lot of projects
die in the corporate politics stage.
I agree with Gittins that this is wrong, the problem is that fixing
it suddenly isn't possible -- the problem is as much attitude as anything
else. For some reason, companies lossing millions on forex plays is
acceptable, but losing the same money on a failed new product is seen
as tragic rather than the cost of remaining in business in the long term.
Glen Turner Network Engineer
(08) 8303 3936 Australian Academic and Research Network
The revolution will not be televised, it will be digitised