National Enabling Technologies Strategy: A national approach

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The Australian Government released “Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century” as part of the 2009-10 Federal Budget. The budget delivered a significant increase (25 per cent) in funding for science, technology and innovation. The government also announced the National Enabling Technologies Strategy with funding of $38.2 million over four years. The Strategy complements the new investments in science, technology and innovation and provides a framework for the responsible development of enabling technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and other technologies as they emerge in Australia.

The Australian Government considers that enabling technologies have the potential to provide significant long term social and economic benefits for Australia. For example, the coming together of telecommunication technologies, internet, and groupware has leveled the field so that even smaller firms are able to compete in areas where they otherwise could not. Enabling technologies have the potential to underpin an increasing number of breakthrough innovations in products, services and processes and to offer effective solutions to help address major global and national challenges, such as medical treatments, energy generation and environmental remediation. They may also pose new health, safety and environmental risks and have ethical and social impacts. A balance needs to be found that manages the risks and impacts while ensuring that the benefits can be obtained.

For more information see the Deparment of Innovation booklet on the National Enabling Technologies.

Stakeholder Advisory Council

To remain connected with the enabling technologies community, an Advisory Council of members representing various stakeholders from non-government organisations, union, consumer groups, the research community and industry was established to provide comment and advice to the department on the operation and future direction of the Strategy. The Council will advise government on issues that may arise in the development or use of enabling technologies in Australia and activities that could be undertaken under the Strategy to address these issues. The CFA has a representative on the Council .

Expert Forum

The Government has established an Expert Forum comprising a number of experts in bio and nanotechnologies, regulation and foresighting to assist with the responsible uptake of enabling technologies. Foresighting comprises strategic analytical tools to prepare for uncertainties and transformative developments in society and the business environment. The Expert Forum is charged with examining how the use of the new enabling technologies might address global and national problems and to more effectively plan for the future, given the transformative nature of these technologies and their impact on a range of industry sectors. Industry uptake foresight workshops have already been undertaken looking at building products in the built environment, enabling assistive technologies in aged care and enabling technologies in the food industry (post farm-gate).

For more information visit the National Enabling Technologies Stategy website at

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