Practice-based Innovation and Applied Research and TAFE

Innovation is more than the linear journey starting with science, research, and hopefully ending with transformation to the commercial world.  Commercial transformation can also have its origins in practice-based innovation and applied research.  A practice-based and applied research approach to innovation operates at the interaction between the two sub-systems of innovation – acquisition and assimilation of knowledge and transformation and exploitation of knowledge.

Practice-based innovation and applied research, innovation driven by doing, using, and interacting, is as valid as science and technology-based innovation. The four components of innovation within firms and industries may cover: product (goods/services); processes of production (place based or distributive); distribution or logistic chains; organisational (why organise and how); and marketing (producer and consumer).  All these innovation types are the natural domain of TAFE, both vocational education and training and higher education, with these components responding best in a TAFE/firm/industry/student eco-system of practice-based innovation and applied research.

TDA members undertake practice-based innovation and applied research as part of industry collaboration between researchers, industry, and government. That can be theoretical research, which leverages intellectual property for downstream commercialisation. It can also be the acquisition and assimilation of knowledge, and transformation and exploitation of knowledge as TAFEs across Australia engage with local industry and employers, and communities.

TAFEs know how to work with businesses of all sizes and at all stages of their development.  Applying that sound understanding to collaborative applied research problem solving and idea development is an essential TAFE pathway for successful applied research for industries, firms, SMEs and family businesses, and for TAFE students.  Many TAFE educators and trainers already demonstrate practice-based innovation and applied research in their own teaching practice for and with industry and community partners. TAFEs wishing to understand the global context for VET applied research can connect with the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Applied Research Affinity Group. TDA is a member of WFCP.