New Lead Scientist for the Victorian Government

December 2016

Dr Amanda Caples BSc Hons PhD AICD was appointed Lead Scientist for the Victorian Government in July 2016.

Dr Caples was an ideal candidate, for what is now a full-time executive appointment in the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, due to her extensive experience across private industry, research-academia and public service.

“The role is a natural extension of what I have been doing over the past 15 years and specifically the last 18 months with the Future Industries sector strategies, the establishment of LaunchVic and AutoTransition Plan implementation.”

This rare dichotomy of experience makes her effective in bringing the different sectors together to develop solutions for challenges facing both the Victorian and Australian communities, evidenced by the following commendation from Club Melbourne Ambassador, Professor Doug Hilton of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

“Amanda’s appointment is of great benefit to Victoria because of her deep knowledge of industries based on intellectual property and knowhow, and her long-term commitment to developing the knowledge based economy in Victoria.”

Amanda also brings to the table a reputation for working collaboratively with others and a strong record of achievement in development and delivery of industry plans.

As Lead Scientist, Amanda said her priorities are to:
 - Advocate the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to Victoria's economic future
 - Enhance university/business engagement and identify opportunities to build scale of activities by facilitating partnerships
 - Scan the horizon for new technologies and provide high level strategic advice on potential social and economic impacts
 - Advocate to improve the innovation capacity of the public sector.

Dr Caples also hopes to build on Victoria’s long history of discovery and innovation and to build upon the strengths of the state.

“Victoria is leading the country in three areas: health and medical research; engineering and design and digital technology; and cyber security and gaming.”

In ascending to the role, Dr Caples also inherits a number of challenges. For her, the key challenges are keeping up with the pace of technology advancement, skilling Victoria’s workforce for the future and managing our transitioning economy.

But as Professor Hilton suggests, she also shares the task with her fellow Australian Lead Scientists to raise our focus on protecting and exploiting our intellectual property.

“According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Australia ranks poorly with respect to knowledge transfer, and patenting activity is not commensurate with our standing as a leader in global research,” Professor Hilton said.

In a rapidly changing scientific environment, Dr Caples will have quite the job ahead of her to maintain Victoria’s status, both nationally and internationally, as a STEM powerhouse, which she is more than capable of doing owing to her multi-facet experience.

We wish her the best of luck and look forward to seeing what she achieves during her tenure.