A framework for analysing the role of innovation policy in regional innovation system development

Institutions for teaching and research

Canberra has strength in terms of location of institutions for teaching and research. They include:

  • A strong university sector—comprising the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the Australian Defense Force Academy, the Australian Catholic University, and the Canberra Institute of Technology.
  • The CSIRO—Divisions of Plant Industry, Entomology, Land and Water, Marine and Atmospheric Research, Mathematical and Information Sciences and Sustainable Ecosystems.
  • National ICT Centre of Excellence Australia (NICTA).
  • Geosciences Australia.
  • Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO).
  • Cooperative Research Centers (crcs)—Greenhouse Accounting, Landscape Evolution & Mineral Exploration, E-Water, and Invasive Animals.
  • Major government research bureau’s—including the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economics, the Bureau of Tourism Research, Bureau of Rural Sciences.

Cultural institutions

Canberra is the location for Australia’s major national cultural institutions.This fuel creativity through their collecting, exhibiting and outreach activities.

  • Australian War Memorial
  • National Archives of Australia
  • National Film and Sound Archive
  • National Gallery of Australia
  • Australian Institute of Sport
  • National Library of Australia
  • National Museum of Australia
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Science and Technology Centre (Question)
  • Old Parliament House
  • Parliament House

The institutions are the nucleus of Canberra’s creative industries. Being centers of national cultural significance, the institutions have a very strong national and international focus, which in turn, requires them to seek out suppliers of an exceptionally high standard.

Innovation system institutional framework

The institutions also form relationships with Australian research organizations to conduct specific research, and will also form formal relationships to gain Australian Research Council Linkage grants. The Australian War Memorial, for example, has formed linkages with the Australian National University and the Department of Defense in a five year project. These institutions are also major contributors to the ACT economy through tourism, employment, and through purchasing services from ACT businesses.

Lead businesses

Canberra is home to a number of multi-national ICT companies such as Raytheon and Computer Sciences Corporation. Most other global computer software, hardware and services companies have representative offices in Canberra. IBM and Unisys have research facilities in Canberra. Several lead businesses have grown in Canberra through innovation and entrepreneurship in meeting the specific requirements of defense and government purchasers. These businesses are particularly important in building and sustaining networks with research organizations and new technology based businesses forming in Canberra.

Electronics industry

A Study of the Electronics sector in the ACT for the Electronics Industry Cluster Study (Advance Consulting Pty Ltd, 2003) identified 385 firms in the ACT and region which could be grouped into the electronics industry. Of these, about 61 percent were services firms and 29 percent were specialist wholesalers or retailers, with the remainder (nine firms) being manufacturers. The ‘electronics industry’ was defined as the group of companies which design, produce, service, install, and distribute products and systems made from electronic and photonic components and which may contain embedded or loaded software to provide an operational device or network. It also includes companies which provide services to support the production of electronic of electronic and photonic components (including microchips and optical fiber) and products. Many of these firms also identify with product and service industry classifications, such as defense, ICT hardware and applications, scientific instruments, and security services. Lead businesses in these industries are described below.


The Australian Government is the largest single purchaser of information and communication technology products and services in Australia—estimated at around $2 billion per annum. The sheer size of this market, and the trend towards public sector outsourcing of ICT services, has encouraged many national and international ICT businesses to establish a presence in Canberra. Many companies that have grown and developed in Canberra and have found success in the world arena still use Canberra as the base for serving a global market. Tower Software, is the world’s leading enterprise content management (ECM) provider to government and regulated industries. It delivers award-winning electronic document and records management (EDRM) solutions. Tower Software’s TRIM Context 6 solution is a single, integrated platform that manages business information throughout its complete lifecycle.


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