Science and Australia's place in the world
Megatrends and emerging market opportunities
In defining the future challenges and opportunities for the nation, 50 of our leading scientists and 120 leaders in industry, government, community, media and academia have looked at the top five global megatrends of the future. We and others have concluded that the most significant trend will be to deliver more, from less resources, to more people.
Depleting natural resources and increasing demand for those resources will see a global focus on resource use and efficiency.
As a nation that exports energy, minerals and food commodities like wheat and meat we understand very well how this trend has helped position Australia. But we also see powerful new markets will emerge that will drive a shift to resource efficiency and clean technology. Waste will be a source of opportunity and nature a source of inspiration.
We will place measurable value on things we have previously taken for granted such as water and biodiversity.
And this is not in the distant future. Science and markets are already interacting more closely than ever before.
The second megatrend we see is divergent demographics. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries are ageing with lifestyle and diet-related health problems. At the same time poorer countries have higher fertility rates and not enough food for millions.
On one hand this will drive an increased investment in preventative and personalised health care and on the other an increase in global trade in basic commodities of carbohydrates, protein and fat mostly as cereals, meat and milk products.
Around the world, as a species, we are on the move - moving from rural to urban cities.
We are changing jobs, careers and houses more and commuting further to work than ever before. Even through the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) we saw over 8 per cent year on year growth in airline travel and China plans to build 97 new airports.
Our future world will be connected and virtual - an 'iWorld'. Computing power and memory storage are still improving rapidly.
This has already had a deep effect on the way we do science, underpinning advances in genetics, information and communication and modelling complex systems such as climate and exploring the frontiers of space.
As more devices connect to the internet we see its power increase. New networks are arising. Smart electricity grids will offer the same sort of opportunities for our power grid that the internet provided to communications. We will see opportunities in energy storage, integration of renewable energy into our grids and increased energy efficiency.
'A personal touch' is a trend for innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services and is exemplified by the rapid take-up of the personalised smart-phones, ipads and social media.
These trends are visible, but Australia must also be prepared for shocks such as another health threat like H1N1. Science will need to help the nation prepare for the increasing threat of plant and animal diseases coming from overseas.
The key to unlocking these challenges and opportunities will be working across the connections and not thinking of them in isolation.
These challenges, risks and opportunities are also changing the very way we do science.
Hajkowicz S, Moody J. 2010. Our future world. An analysis of global trends, shocks and scenarios. CSIRO, Canberra. http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pw2c.pdf [external link].
Prahalad CK & Mashelkar RA. 2010. Innovation’s Holy Grail. Harvard Business review. Vol. July-August.
Moody J & Nogrady B. 2010. The Sixth Wave how to succeed in a resource limited world, Random House Australia, Sydney.
Clark ME. 2010. Climate Change: Where Science Meets Markets. ACI2010, 48th World Congress in Sydney, Australia, 26 March 2010.