Australian innovation and invention is world class, but it is let down by a number of factors:-

1. Lack of management understanding of the commercialisation process
2. Lack of funding and advisory support to help with innovation development 3. Risk adverse industry that find it difficult to accept new innovations (unless its come from the USA) 4. Startups and SME's not willing to partner with each other to create an integrated solution. Most go out of their way to compete for the crumbs when the whole meal is on the table and available if only they had the courage. The problem we need to fix in Australia is about having faith in our own abilities and to be proud to stand together and work together.

user picture Nigel Hennessy · 3 years ago · 1,050 votes · 58 comments
Nigel again with my final Blog... Firstly we didn't manage to get to the Hack - apparently it was too full and we were asked not to attend. It was suggested however that I write a bit more on my thoughts on Innovation and policy. I raised 4 factors in my original (and winning) blog. The first one was about understanding the commercialisation process. I thought that should now be better explained since I am not at the function in person. Commercialisation is about the monetization of IP. Quite simple. The process by which one achieves that however is very complex and unless fully understood is likely to result is excessive amounts of overspend or failure. The ideal pathway is one which is well trodden with all the risks understood. At a personal level and being both a mathematician and a proven successful entrepreneur I developed a model which contains the 6 Dimensions of what I believe to be the critical elements. I then model the new initiative and its commercialisation to determine the likely probability of success. I have been using this model for the past 20 years and it has shown to improve the probability of success by 2 to 3 times. Process and education are both critical to reducing failures - this is one of the Dimensions - Discipline. The second factor focuses on another key Dimension - Funding (plus Discipline). Australia has never been very good at funding initiatives. I know from personal experience that with some of my ventures I have sought funding and it has rarely come from Australia. I had money from the UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Israel and the USA but not from Australia. Government support in this area in Australia has been good and as long as it is linked to a policy on Job growth and Industry development it meets the needs of both Government and Tax Payers. Governments should not waste money on grants which don't create a return to the Tax Payers. Grants that create employment or grow an industry do that. This is leverage and as long as a mechanism exists to review in an expert manner the grant applicants to assess their likely impact on job growth or industry development then it becomes a well-focused policy. The third factor is an odd one and its one of the reasons that even with good technology it can't always get going. There does tend to be lack of desire for experimentation of new innovations. Disruptions occur in the 6 Dimensions I mentioned earlier and yet too many companies will ignore or try to defend through legislations and other forms of protectionism. For now just think Uber. This is a disruptive technology that is changing the taxi industry. Some leading Australian and overseas companies are trying to fight Uber through legislation and are not accepting that the best form of defence is usually attack. The sad thing in my view of this example is that Uber is fundamentally a US owned company and we are in danger that Australian shareholders (tax payers) are being impacted negatively by Australian companies not being progressive, innovative and instead are trying to fight off the inevitable. My last point is one that I have always felt passionate about. Australian companies particularly in the overseas market are more likely to compete with each other than they are to work together. When I lived in the USA I was very close to the Water Industry and I saw many delegations coming from Australia, Israel, Singapore and the Netherlands. Although Australia has the best technology and the best experiences it just didn’t unite as a single force. The result was that many US Utilities and Water Management companies considered Israel or Singapore to be the leaders and not Australia. The only area where Australia excelled was in water policy. As a nation we must learn to work more together and create integrated solutions instead of just bits a pieces. This is a project management and cultural issue but can be solved through leadership and appropriate systems integration. If you wish to discuss further or have a chat about anything written in this blog, please feel free to contact me – I am on linked in and this Blog will be repeated on that as well – slightly modified for the audience.
Nigel Hennessy · 3 years ago
Nigel is exactly correct! (though even US ideas dont get traction...)
Francis Grey · 3 years ago
Our company, TenasiTech, is extremely fortunate to have Brisbane/Melbourne Angels and Uniseed as investors. But the ability to match some of this investment with grant funding is really the "other half" of this story. So we are the lucky recipient of an Acceleration Commercialisation grant. This program, and the others which sit within AusIndustry, are just so important for companies like ours as bringing a new advanced manufacturing product to the market takes time and money, whether in Australia or elsewhere. Investors at the early commercial stages simply cannot fund the whole thing in many cases. The AC Advisor, Steve Davis, is a tremendous asset to what we do and adds real value to us, in addition to the funding! My fear is that we are running up to a Federal election, and efficient and effective programs like AC, the other Entrepreneur Program elements, and the R&D Tax Incentive, will be stopped by the incoming Government. Don't fiddle with these programs, please! Expand them...
Richard Marshall · 3 years ago
I couldn't agree more. Australia does not lack in the idea generation or ramp up through the early technology readiness levels,, its almost everything else after this that gets sticky. Culturally we don't do ourselves any favours as historically we are risk adverse and sensitive to failure, but how could we not be when the stakes are so high and investment so great. A mechanism that can streamline the idea to dollars and help manage the risk through this process allows a sharper focus on innovation.
nelson mino · 3 years ago
Nigel is spot on. It's essential we do everything in our power to keep talent and the best ideas in Australia. How will our future look without this? Tech is not an industry, it applies to the future of all industries. We have the talent and the ideas, all we need is the eco-system and the support. We need more programs like Accelerating Commercialisation. Our company Boardcave/Cavewire is now helping Australian companies compete and expand into the U.S and Brazil, we have only just begun. Without AC we wouldn't be where we are.
Ryan Mets · 3 years ago
At this stage it is worth broadening the scope slightly of this discussion. So far its been quite heavily focused on new technologies, but in reality innovations and disruptions can come from 6 dimensions which make up the ecosystem. As such a management innovation can be as disruptive as a technology innovation. Equally a new way of financing can create a disruption which impacts how companies work. We must not lose sight that when we are speaking of INNOVATION we need to consider all aspects. The ability of people, society, government and companies to react to disruptions is a process of foresight and agility.
Nigel Hennessy · 3 years ago
Nigel has identified the general and critical constraints we face at home - The company I work for received CA funding and while you need the cash always - the bigger value is in the mentoring, and networks - we now have angel investors and the benefit snowballs. It seems that managing the risk averse culture here both in management and in funding is often a bridge too far... For my company, CA enabled us to build collaborations, understand the specialised area of innovation commercialisation, progress past relying on grants for subsistence, and enter the value chain to commercialise out technology.
Adam Blunn · 3 years ago
This is spot on. Accelerating Commercialisation has been an essential program to help my startup, SwipeAds, flourish. We quite literally would not be in the good position we are now if it were not for AC and its dedicated case workers. I have more than 20 years of experience managing digital innovation, working at Atari, Microsoft and various other companies in USA, Japan, and Australia. To succeed we need to move fast and gather the data that builds investor confidence. AC helps buy time and build investor confidence. We need more and better funded programs like this one to stay competitive vs. the USA and stop the brain drain. Matthew Ford Founder and COO of SwipeAds Founding creator of FunCaptcha
Matthew Ford · 3 years ago
I strongly support this line of thinking. I have been involved in early stage companies for 30 years and the AC program is a credible lifeline. Please stop taxing the award money.
Mary Frey · 3 years ago
I'd also add that whatever is agreed and proposed this time needs bipartisan support that it will not fundamentally change for a decade. Business hates uncertainty and change and SME's and startups have little margin for error. Every time a scheme or a rule is changed can mean thousands of man-hours spent aiming for that objective have been wasted. For a startup - this can be a life or death difference. I've been working in the innovation space in Australia since 2007 and have seen 5 different schemes all broadly aimed at the same outcome: 1. COMET 2. Commercial Ready 3. Climate Ready 4. Commercialisation Australia 5. Accelerating Commercialisation An average life span of 2 years per scheme is not smart - please stop moving the goal posts and give startup businesses, advisers and networks a chance to learn, improve and get really good at getting the best out of the scheme - whatever it is.
Nick Christy · 3 years ago
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