Australia’s Net Inventor Loss – a must read for both sides of politics

More by

Pitch your Startup, App or Hardware or post a Startup Event or Startup Job

Dear Election Candidates

I would like to draw your attention to the following graph. The graph shows the net immigration and emigration by inventors who have filed patents in PCT Countries (Patent Co-operation Treaty) from 2001-2010.

Net Inventor Migration by Country

Net Inventor Migration by Country

What this graph illustrates is that the USA, Switzerland, Singapore, Belgium and Finland are kicking our asses in attracting new inventive talent and keeping their existing talent. Focus on the black dots, they show the net gain or loss of inventors.

Australia had a small net decline in inventors over the 10 year period, which is surprising given our countries wonderful environment, natural beauty, great living conditions, multicultural society, economic strength, rule of law and safety.

Australia doesn’t even make it on the top 30 list of migration destinations.

Largest Inventor Migration Destinations and Flows

Largest Inventor Migration Destinations and Flows

But given our awful community attitude to immigration (ironic given our heritage) and our lack of Governmental support for matters entrepreneurial, I suspect they either can’t make it into the visa requirements or they don’t feel welcome or they feel like they will end up driving taxis because they don’t fit the existing University system.

Whilst I can’t show you a graph that proves a co-relation between increase in number of patents = increase in GDP, I believe its safe to say that a decrease in inventive talent is a major missed opportunity that will result in lower GDP somewhere down the road.

Conversely if we can work out how to increase Net Migration of Inventors and put them in an environment that allows them to invent,research and commercialise, then we stand a chance of increasing our scientific and technical capabilities and this will lead to greater income for the country.

Whilst the USA and Silicon Valley is always going to be a magnet to some of our most inventive talent Australia, we should be a magnet to the professors, researchers and entrepreneurs seeking to leave countries that have civil unrest, economic problems, war or are just plain bad places to live.

Immigration and jumping the queue is a politically charged topic, both sides of politics know the wrong policy could lose them the election.

Its not enough to say that we have existing programs in place, I know a lot of inventors 20+, I feel confident in saying only a few would satisfy the skilled migration points system.

If you are University Professor who managed to leave (either legally or as a refugee) the Middle East, Africa, North West Asia or the former USSR, it is not realistic to expect you would have more than $800,000 in assets, 4-8 years experience running a business and yet you could be very inventive and have substantial invention and innovation experience.

If you accept that we are having our asses kicked by the US and Switzerland (really?) and you accept that increasing net Inventor Migration and creating an environment to boost invention, innovation and commercialisation is a good thing for the country than here is some suggestions to do something about.

I want both sides of politics to consider the following and put focused Inventor Migration on the agenda.

  • Establish a Inventor Migration Policy to fast track and prioritise new inventors entry visas and citizenship
  • Anyone who can show they have lodged a patent somewhere in the PCT and has a legitimate scientific, technical or entrepreneurial background should be granted fast track status
  • Each capital city should have an Inventor HackSpace, that is office space, workshops and labs open to all but priority given to known inventors
  • Give the new inventors a desk or lab space and the equivalent of a Jobstart payment for 6 months
  • Provide access to a competitive grants program to allow the inventors to fund further research in their chosen topics.
  • Target these inventors through scientific publications, social media and conferences and start selling Australia as the place to migrate if you are an inventor.

The full report is located here

We welcome any comments

Mike Nicholls


Pitch your Startup, App or Hardware or post a Startup Event or Startup Job

This book will change your life



Learn about OKRs - Objectives & Key Results, the management system that Google & Intel use to achieve massive growth


You can use OKRs to massively accelerate your startup and personal life.


Written by John Doerr the legendary Venture Capitalist who invested $12m into Google which became $3 billion a few years later.


He also invested in Amazon, Intuit, Zynga, Compaq, Netscape, Macromedia, Symantec, Sun & dozens of other companies.


Subscribe to our irregular email & get a 2-month Amazon Audible trial with 2 free books


PS Free book offer only for new Audible trials