One of the great joys of this job is meeting people who are so enthusiastic and optimistic about taking on a challenge.
"Challenge" may well be the defining word of our times.
The challenge of climate change.
The challenge of Europe's debt.
The challenge of providing for a world of seven billion people.
The fact is, we simply cannot meet these challenges with the technologies and practices of the past.
Nor can we ignore their impact on our economy, our jobs and our environment.
Business as usual won't do.
We may be living through the biggest resources boom in Australian history.
But how many of us would call these the boom times?
How many of us can see the clouds on the global horizon?
How many of us rejoice to see the dollar at record highs, and manufacturing in serious strife?
The old Australia is gone forever.
That does not mean we are the victims of chance.
It means we have an opportunity to make our own luck.
For nations like ours aren't defined by their problems. They are defined by their people.
We can adapt, and we can thrive, if we rely upon the ingenuity of people like you.
The finalists here are an object lesson in the power of innovation.
They are building new jobs, they are making new products, they are improving people's lives.
That's what we're all about.
They are securing the future for manufacturing - just as they are helping to sustain the resources boom.
Many will testify to the importance of public funding in their careers thus far.
Seven of the finalists work with the CSIRO, one of the world's greatest public science agencies.
Three represent our Cooperative Research Centres.
Twenty-two are part of projects funded through the Australian Research Council.
And every one of them owes something to an Australian university.
That is a mark of the crucial role of government in the national innovation system.
We have a lot of great people with great ideas.
How many become products? How many become jobs? How many become companies?
They call the innovator's road the Valley of Death - and there are precious few investors who want to take that path.
Government must do what markets cannot. It's our job to held turn ideas into money.
I am proud that under this Government, Australia is investing more than ever before in science, research and innovation.
And I am proud that even in these tough fiscal times, we are not sacrificing our investments in the future.
We are not sacrificing the phenomenal potential we are here to celebrate.
Today I have announced a new injection of $100 million into Australia's vital venture capital pool.
We expect that investment will attract a further $100 million from the private sector.
This is $200 million for the new Australia.
Over the next six months we will review the future direction of our venture capital support, beyond the Innovation Investment Fund.
I am calling on Australia's innovators to be part of that conversation - just as they have shared our journey for the past four years.
You are the nation-builders of our time - and these are the programs that allow you to do what you do best.
Our challenges are your opportunities.
So I congratulate all those who will receive honours tonight - and I wish you well on the great journey ahead.