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Introduction

Innovation helps businesses improve the way they work, solve everyday problems and drive long-term job creation. It is also a key driver of productivity growth and economic renewal. At the national level, an innovation system is an open network of actors across all sectors of the economy who undertake these activities and interact within an institutional, cultural and regulatory environment (also referred to as framework conditions). The conduct and interactions between individuals, organisations and communities, play out in the immediate local context which they actively co-create, and which is fundamentally influenced by the broader national and international contexts.

The many interactions occurring simultaneously and iterating over different time scales determine the outcomes that emerge from the system as a whole. These complex processes are difficult to describe by measurement alone without sacrificing important details. The systems view of innovation tries to accommodate this complexity with some success, by mapping out the key components of the system and linkages between them, using a variety of indicators. Despite the lack of a theoretical foundation for which it is sometimes criticised, this pragmatic approach is tractable for policy purposes because it shines a spotlight on some of the key areas of innovation performance as observed empirically.

Since 2010, the Australian Innovation System (AIS) Monitor has been tracking Australia's innovation performance and characteristics in an annual, hard copy publication. As of 2018, the report is going fully digital, marking a key milestone in its own journey of transformation. The new digital AIS continues in the tradition of providing high-quality metrics from reputable sources with expert commentary and analysis, but it also introduces some exciting new features to improve the publication's utility for readers. These include interactive charts, downloadable datasets modified to a machine-readable format, and numerous links and references to deep-dive research and analysis.

While there is no one complete conceptual model of the innovation system, the material covered in the AIS Monitor is broadly consistent with previous years' reports. Indicators are organised into chapters and sections by common themes, with a focus on highlighting key patterns and changes over time. Previous efforts in this space have revealed gaps in the evidence base on innovation in Australia. This issue was noted in a report to government titled Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation prepared by Innovation and Science Australia and in response, an Innovation Metrics Review has been launched with the aim of identifying opportunities for improving Australia's innovation data assets. Outcomes of the Review will be factored into future updates of the AIS Monitor as appropriate. [1]