Phil Ruthven AM

Ben has written a superb book – Innovation in Australia – that I recommend we all read. It is thoroughly researched- full of interesting facts and trends. It is a wake-up call; with, sensible and doable solutions in his closing chapter Good on you Ben. A great achievement. And done with passion.

Phil Ruthven, Chief Executive Officer and Founder Ruthven Institute.

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Ben’s book is timely and demanding of a new commitment to innovation. Empires come and go, and as we head towards the middle of this 21st Century, we are seeing a changing of the guard yet again. Already this is being termed the Asian Century, and it is. The East’s GDP (in PPP terms) overtook the West some years ago. China’s GDP is now 40% greater than that of the USA. India has overtaken Japan, and our nearest neighbour – Indonesia – will overtake Russia, Germany and Japan during this and the next decade. Australia is a tiny part of the Asian mega-region (the Asia Pacific and Indian sub-continent region) with 2% of its GDP and 0.5% of its population. That said, Australia has emerged since 1788 to be the 20th largest economy among the world’s 230 nations and protectorates, with the help of two empires: the British and the American. Encouragingly, two-thirds of our immigrants and inbound tourists and over 80% of our trade now originate in Asia. But how long can we depend for half our trade to be in minerals? Can the bonanza in university enrolments from Asia (a quarter of all students) last? Ben has produced a valuable timeline of innovation, giving lots of examples and praise over several centuries. Our nation, originating as a colony then states over 24 decades and now into our 25th, has had interesting ‘heroes’ when it comes to innovation. The closing decade or so of the 18th Century and the early decades of the 19th Century belongs to government heroes. But most of the 19th Century was driven by business innovators. The 20th Century saw the heroic mantle move to our military – who helped defend many nations including our own in all but one decade – and sportspeople who gave the nation huge pride with their world championships and records. But businesses have yet to do their bit and start to exhibit more productivity, commitment to WBP performance and profitability, heroism and innovation. It is, after all, going to be a challenging, competitive and prospective Century in this, the new Asian Century. Ben Kehoe shows the way with seven pragmatic initiatives in his final chapter, for which – like preceding chapters – I compliment him, and endorse his analyses, conclusions and

Phil Ruthven AM
Founder and CEO The Ruthven Institute

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