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University students at Sydney's Microsoft store, attending a free coding tutorial. Photo: James Wells

Innovation is built on culture: Microsoft

Success in innovation is determined by culture, a report from Microsoft argues.

Australia stands at No. 17 on the Global Innovation Index and the federal government has just released a $1.1 billion package to boost Australia’s innovative capacity. Accelerating Australia’s innovation ecosystem stated that countries, regions and cities that have a reputation for innovation have a culture of collaboration between government, universities and business.

The report used the case study of Boston in the US, which is home to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The Boston area is famous for producing start-ups – such as networking leader Akamai Technologies, and marketing software maker HubSpot. Amazon.com and Google also have research facilities in the area.

These start-ups raised US$4 billion in venture capital. All up, the technology sector employs – directly and indirectly – 19.2 per cent of Massachusetts workers and generates US$160 billion a year for the US economy. The report identified a collaborative culture as key to this success.

“What we saw in Boston confirmed our view that no one part of the ecosystem can drive innovation alone,” wrote Pip Marlow, Microsoft Australia managing director in the report’s foreword. “Instead, success in innovation depends on a wide range of people making positive individual contributions but working together in a joined-up way.”

Therefore, Microsoft has ramped up its collaboration efforts in Australia. One example is that it’s partnered with universities to deliver coding tutorials to students.

“We’re excited about teaching university students how to code,” said Anna Howarth, citizenship manager at Microsoft Australia. “Computer science education is important for students, no matter what kind of career they’re looking to pursue.”

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