Bill Ferris

Australia’s first venture capitalist Bill Ferris has been appointed chair of Innovation Australia, an independent statutory body established to assist with the administration and oversight of the federal government’s industry innovation and venture capital programs.

“Innovation is critical to economic development,” Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne said. “Australia has strengths but also some challenges. That’s why the government is developing an innovation and science agenda to focus on this key driver of our economy.

“Mr Ferris is the right person to lead Innovation Australia in developing a more innovative culture. A former Chair of Austrade and for 12 years the Chair of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Bill is a highly respected veteran of venture capital and private equity in Australasia.”

Mr Pyne said the government would invest in “key enablers” of innovation, such as science, research, education and infrastructure.

“Boosting innovation and entrepreneurship will create jobs and stimulate growth, and will position Australian businesses to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities,” he said.

The news was welcomed by the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.

“It is no accident that Australia’s first venture capitalist has been appointed Chair of Innovation Australia,” AVCAL chief executive Yasser El-Ansary said.

“Australia needs, more than ever, to be more focused and agile in exploiting its vast innovation potential. Importantly, we need strong champions like Mr Ferris to advocate for greater public and private sector effort in commercialising our research discoveries, and supporting our best and brightest innovators. This absolutely needs to a key foundation of our economic agenda.”