September 23, 2015

NAB Special Report: A Survey of Business Innovation in Australia

Innovation is a key driver of business success and a differentiator of high growth-potential segments of the economy. This special report explores business attitudes towards innovation and opportunities.

Key Findings


  • Australian business does not believe that we are a highly innovative nation. Just 13% of all firms rate Australia as “highly innovative” (and only 6% of very large firms).
  • But, there is no shortage of firms (more than 1 in 4) across all sizes of business that identify themselves as “highly innovative”.
  • Highly innovative firms can be found across all sectors of the economy – including some more “mature” industries such as Manufacturing and Retail (and in both very big and small firms).
  • This raises the possibility that business may be underestimating the true level of innovation in Australia.


  • Importantly, those firms that identify as “highly innovative” are also stronger performers both in terms of business conditions and their level of confidence. This is true in most industries.
  • Out-performance is reflected in all components of the business conditions index – trading performance, profitability and employment conditions.


  • Innovative firms are typically more optimistic about Australia’s future economic growth in the short & medium-term (except very big business).
  • Most “highly innovative” firms (particularly very big business) believe the key opportunities for Australia are linked to Asia, both in terms of increased trade & the growing middle classes.

Motivation & Culture

  • The primary motivation to innovate is to drive growth and revenues (particularly among ASX300). Innovation is typically defined by a firms’ knowledge of their markets and customers, constant process reviews, learning from failures and passion and drive.

For this full special report, please see the attached document:

NAB Special Report: A Survey of Business Innovation in Australia – September 2015 (PDF, 310KB)