Bill Ferris, founder of Australia's first venture capital company, is the new chair of Innovation Australia

Bill Ferris. Photo: Champ Equity

In a sign that Malcolm Turnbull’s pledge to focus on innovation is serious, one of Australia’s top businesspeople, Bill Ferris has been appointed chair of Innovation Australia.

Ferris founded Australia’s first venture capital company in 1970 and is currently co-chairman of CHAMP Equity, the Sydney-based firm he started in 2000. He’s a former chair of Austrade and spent 12 years as chair of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Industry, innovation and science minister Christopher Pyne said Ferris has been a key adviser as the government developed it science and innovation agenda

“Mr Ferris is the right person to lead Innovation Australia in developing a more innovative culture. Bill is a highly respected veteran of venture capital and private equity in Australasia,” the minister said.

Ferris has been appointed for three years and said he will look at the changes need to improve the commercialisation of ideas in Australia

“It is a rare and exciting moment for all involved in science and innovation in Australia; a time to lift national awareness of the importance innovation must play in our future prosperity and the actions necessary for that to be possible,” Ferris said.

“I have long been a champion of the need for greater government and private sector effort in the commercialisation of our research discoveries and inventions”.

His appointment was welcomed by Labor, with shadow minister Kim Carr saying Ferris was “eminently qualified” for the role.

Carr said a call by Ferris for Australia’s superannuation funds to invest more heavily into venture capital and start-up funding aligned with the ALP’s approach to innovation.

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