Tagged: Collaboration

Academics do want to engage with business, but need more support

The Conversation
Drew Evans, University of South Australia and Carolin Plewa, University of Adelaide

Universities today are under more pressure than ever to collaborate with industry.

In the words of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

Increasing collaboration between businesses, universities and the research sector is absolutely critical for our businesses to remain competitive.

Australia has a poor report card when it comes to university-business collaboration. It ranks last among the OECD countries when comparing the proportion of businesses working with universities.

But this is not all. Australia ranks only 72nd in the world on the Innovation Efficiency Ratio, a measure comparing innovation inputs to outputs. And we have one of the lowest number of scientific publications co-authored by industry in the OECD.

There is a clear impetus for change. A change towards more academic collaboration with industry.

Why are there such low levels of collaboration?

A popular belief is that researchers are focused on publishing their work in academic journals, and not interested in collaboration with industry.

At a press conference on science and innovation, Turnbull said:

… the primary motivator has been to publish and make sure your publications are cited in lots of other publications, hence the term “publish or perish”.

Publications are, and will continue to be, critical for the advancement of knowledge and for the reputation of academics and universities alike. But does that mean academics aren’t interested in working with business?

Recently the South Australian Science Council undertook a benchmarking survey to test this assumption.

The academic engagement with end users survey was designed to capture the perceptions and attitudes of academics when it comes to engaging with business, government or non-profit organisations.

The survey (which has not been published publicly due to confidentiality reasons) sampled 20% of the total academic employees across three universities in South Australia. The sample size of 852 academics is large enough to tell us something about the Australian, not just South Australian, academic.

The findings found that the most academics (nine out of ten) were motivated to engage with business to help translate their research into practice. And 86% were motivated to engage in order to have an impact on society.

Academics not motivated by money

It is not money that makes a difference. Only 25% indicated that the opportunity to increase their personal income motivated them to engage.

We often think that there are just too many barriers to engagement. These barriers range from difficulty in agreeing on Intellectual Property (IP), to mismatches in culture, to a lack of personal contacts with industry, and so on.

But are these barriers really inhibiting engagement?

Few academics in the survey agreed. Only 15% of respondents agreed that their research was too far removed from the end users. 16% agreed that end user engagement doesn’t help achieve their career goals.

Just under one third of respondents agreed that engaging with end users is difficult, that they don’t have relevant skills, or personal contacts or that it would detract them from undertaking other research.

Building stronger relationship between academics and industry

A simple focus on financial incentives alone won’t make a difference.

In the eyes of the academics responding to the survey, they need: Time, support and an environment encouraging of engagement.

Time to dedicate to the networking and relationship building that will lead to successful collaboration. It is relationships, not just single transactions, that breed success. These relationships are integral to research and teaching; integral to the university’s role in society. Yet building relationships takes time.

Support mechanisms are significant enablers. While important for all, they are crucial for newcomers. 80% of the respondents who had not previously engaged with business desire it.

The support comprises staff dedicated to assist in finding end-users, help define applications, facilitate networking and conduct project management. By supporting academics behind the scenes, they enable them to focus on what they are good at – working with their business partners on achieving the desired outcomes.

An environment perceived as encouraging engagement stimulates further engagement. The survey shows that only 29% of respondents who have not worked with business view their local research group as encouraging engagement, compared to 77% of those who have engaged extensively. An encouraging team atmosphere, support from peers and support networks can all help facilitate an engagement friendly culture.

The research suggests that we need to shift our thinking on this topic, away from extrinsic motivators such as money, and towards a focus on what intrinsically motivates academics to engage, such as impact.

The conversation must move away from “overcoming barriers”, which in the eyes of most academics don’t actually exist. We are wasting time dreaming up solutions to problems that don’t exist.

‘It takes three to tango’

Not every academic will engage closely with industry, nor do we want every academic to engage. We need to establish the ecosystem in which engagement is easy and rewarding.

As former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb recently put it: “It takes three to tango”.

Not all academics will want to tango with business; tango is close, intense and full of twists and turns. Yet many want to line dance, foxtrot, or quickstep. They want to engage in different ways.

The Australian government needs to consider the policy framework that enables academics to engage in a way that is best for them and their partners through the provision of time, support, encouragement and recognition.

Drew Evans, Associate Professor of Energy & Advanced Manufacturing, University of South Australia and Carolin Plewa, Associate Professor in Marketing, University of Adelaide

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Are you adapting your marketing pitch for each business that you engage with?

rock
With the FY16 year-end now behind us, it is time to take stock of our achievements, collect metrics and prepare reports for our stakeholders on our performance over the previous 12 months. My employer, being a government owned entity is no exception and has to ensure it meets the expectation of the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Supporting actions arising from the “Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research” agenda, these expectations have considerable focus on the utilisation of science to increase the competitiveness of Australian industry.

This forced reflection has made me analyse how I engage with industry and how I alter my approach based upon industry vertical, company size and my understanding of that company’s culture.  This may seem completely obvious, but we often fail to consciously make these differentiations and recognise that not all companies are created equal. For example the interaction and value proposition I present to a biotech startup is completely different to an engagement I will make with big pharma. Conversely, the business challenges of a startup are completely different to those of large pharma.

With this exact thought in mind, I am really looking forward to attending the KCA Annual Conference, and more specifically the session aptly titled “Not all Companies are Created Equal.” At this session we will hear from companies of different sizes and industries about how they innovate to overcome their business and technical challenges. It is shaping up to be really insightful.

This year the KCA Annual Conference will be held in sunny Brisbane at the Victoria Park Golf Club on 1-2nd September 2016. The conference theme is “Innovation is a state of mind,” and will focus on shaping thinking around commercialisation, entrepreneurship and industry engagement. Registration closes on the 17th August. I hope to see you there.

Dr Tim Boyle, RTTP
Leader, Business Development, ANSTO
KCA Volunteer

Commercialisation: There are no Rules!

The 2014 KCA Annual Conference, themed “Commercialisation: There are no Rules,” was held 18-19 September in Brisbane.

Day one kicked off with a lively, theatre style comical debate about the whole concept of institutional technology transfer and whether or not it actually works. It was an entertaining mudslinging affair, as both sides battled it out, arguing their points with passion to try win over the adjudicator audience. Valid arguments were presented on both sides, and while there was stronger support for the opposing team, the audience supported the notion that while in its current form the system is broken, the notion of technology transfer is still very important and a worthwhile endeavour.  You can read more about the debate on the gemaker blog.

banner1

Day one continued on with updates from DECO on the defence trade control act, IP Analytics from IP Australia and some creative strategies around how to commercialise IP within the humanities and social sciences. Deakin talked us through how crowdfunding and using platforms such as Pozible do offer opportunities for society benefiting social projects, however these sites require strong commitment from the project team and the leveraging of the teams social and professional networks to really make the most of the opportunity and to gain the most out of the exercise. Creative commercialisation in education was also shown to offer benefits as presented by Griffith.

banner2

The afternoon session saw the finalists of the inaugural KCA Research Commercialisation Awards join the stage to talk about some of the lessons learnt though their projects. Of course the most exciting part of day one was the awards dinner, tech transfers night of nights, where our winners of our three awards categories were announced in front of their peers and sector supporters. Just to recap in case you missed the hype (or the official press release), Best Commercial Deal went to Uniquest for their Janssen Dendright deal, Best Creative Engagement Strategy went to Griffith Enterprise for SEED, and the People’s Choice went to Swinburne for their 3D IMAX project. Congrats once again to all our winners, and a big thanks to all our award sponsors Wrays, gemaker, Crowe Horwath, Business Spectator and Joanne Jacobs.

banner4

Day two launched with a cracker marketing session. How to use social media in the tech transfer office and other pearls of wisdom came down the line from guru Laura Schoppe calling in from North Carolina in the US. Changes in the social media scene in Australia were presented by prize donor Joanne Jacobs, while an inspiring tale of perseverance, creative financing and the power to influence via social media was shared with the group by Justine Flynn from the Thankyou Group.

Start-ups and student entrepreneurship featured in the mid-morning session. Andrew Stead shared NICTA’s model of the land of spin-ins, an IP strategy that sits somewhere between licensing and spin-outs. Uber passionate Petra Andren spoke on ATP Innovations student accelerator programs and the potential for universities to use them as a vehicle for commercialisation, and Colin Kinner rounded out the session with the importance of start-ups to the Australian economy and tips as to how tech transfer offices can turn themselves into start-up powerhouses.

banner3

The humorous Michael Klug took on the graveyard shift and converted it into a show-stopping finale for attendees. We only gave him an hour, but he manages to impart substantive information in that short window, drawing on a good forty years of experience in the black art of negotiation.

All in all, a pretty good two days – hopefully you each have a few new “tools” to store away into your industry toolkit. Thanks for all of your feedback – it’s a really great starting point for next year’s program! Don’t forget to let me know if you’d like to join the 2015 organising committee!  The 2015 conference will be in Melbourne in mid-September.  Dates to be confirmed shortly.

A pioneer. A visionary. A leader. A truly great man.

The technology transfer profession of Australia is in mourning after the passing of veteran Dr David Alexander Evans (b. 22/1/1941) on 19/9/2014.

David_EvansDavid made a largely unrecognised, but exceptional, personal contribution to the culture of innovation and support for early stage commercialisation of technologies in Australia, devoting his career and life to providing leadership, vision, inspiration and mentoring support to a generation of innovation professionals.

Working with Australian innovators and commercialisation professionals David supported, facilitated or encouraged, technologies that have delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian economy and generated significant social and environmental benefits.

David was instrumental in transforming Uniquest in the mid-90s into the leading powerhouse that we all now know of it to be. David was also the visionary who noted the need for seed stage funding and in true leadership style went on to pioneer UniSeed, Australia’s first university based Venture Capital Fund (Uniseed) with an initial capitalisation of $20 million.

During a career that spanned more than 40 years, David demonstrated time and time again a remarkable vision for what Australian innovators could achieve. More impressively, his ability to communicate this vision with a passion that inspired others, backed up with skills to facilitate engagement and discussion, saw these visions convert into reality and have a significant positive benefit on the Australian technology transfer scene.

Early Career

David’s passion for innovation was sparked early. In 1962, as a recently graduated engineer (BE Engineering, University of NSW), he joined M R Hornibrook (NSW) Pty Ltd working on Stage 2 of the Sydney Opera House Project. There he was inspired by the creativity of Joe Bertony, who had been able to design the engineering support structures needed to build the visionary sails of the Sydney Opera house. They remained lifelong friends and collaborators on innovation. David’s contributions as part of this team were recognised in “Building a Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House” (Anne Watson ed, 2006).

A young David went on to study his Masters (MS Engineering-Economic Planning and MA Economics) and Doctorate (PhD, Engineering) degrees at Stanford University (California, USA) after receiving a Fulbright Travel Grant and a Ford International Scholarship in 1964. In 1965 he met Professor Doug Englebart (inventor of, among other things, the computer mouse) at a seminar. Caught up in the excitement of the potential of what he was seeing, David began to visit Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and work with Professor Englebart over the period 1966 to 1969, after which he returned to Australia with his young family.

In 1968, David was part of the team that produced “the mother of all demonstrations”, now seen as heralding the dawn of interactive computing. David is personally thanked by Professor Englebart at the conclusion of the hour long presentation (http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/1968Demo.html). David’ doctoral thesis talked about the processes for innovation he had experienced at SRI and he was awarded his doctorate after he used the (then revolutionary) word processing technology they had developed, to revise his thesis overnight in response to suggestions from the examination panel. David is credited by Professor Englebart with having developed “the Journal” which has been described as “a predecessor of all contemporary server software that supports collaborative document creation. It was used to discuss, debate, and refine concepts in the same way that “wikis” are being used today”. The concept of collaboration to improve on and foster new ideas remained right at the core of David’s approach to innovation right until the very end.

After returning to Australia, David became a senior consultant at W D Scott & Company and carried out assignments for Australian Wire Industries, South Australian Aboriginal Lands Council and the Philippines Board of Investments. He subsequently founded and established W D Scott’s office in Papua New Guinea and won major assignments, just prior to independence, in economic development, localization and efficiency improvement.

From 1972 – 1974, David was seconded from W D Scott & Company as a member of the Priorities Review Staff, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – a policy task force / think tank set up by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. He acted as one of five Senior Advisers in the PRS (set up along the lines of Lord Rothschild’s Central Policy Review Staff in the UK) to provide an alternative view on long-term policy to the Australian Government. It was a role that fitted with his extraordinary capacity to envision a better Australia.

He went on to work as a management consultant (largely for governments) in Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Before moving into technology commercialisation in universities in the late 1980s, he had established a consultancy company of his own (the Implementation and Management Group (IMG)), working throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and developed this into a boutique, seed-stage management and investment company starting up, facilitating and nurturing new companies based on innovative Australian technology in IT&T, physical sciences, engineering and biotechnology. Companies in the IMG group included VLD Consultants, IMG Consultants, LSE Manufacturing and LSE Technology.

Entering the world of technology commercialisation

In the late 1980s he began his direct contribution to technology commercialisation in running his own “hatchery”. He took up positions as CEO of University Partnerships Pty Ltd at the University of New England (Armidale) from 1989 to 1994 then CEO and Managing Director of UniQuest, the technology commercialisation company at the University of Queensland from 1994 to 2000.

David transformed UniQuest from an unremarkable university commercialisation outfit into a robust company, nationally recognised as ‘best practice’ and as a leader internationally. He introduced and implemented a fundamental shift in the way commercialisation of technology from public sector R&D was handled, from a focus on stockpiling non-exploited patents to licensing to third parties and establishing start up and spinoff companies. (http://www.uniquest.com.au/index.php?sectionID=14)

The University of Queensland (UQ), largely through the work of UniQuest, is now ranked in the top deciles for research commercialisation outcomes in the world on a number of metrics. The foundations for this success were laid by David. David was the courageous and persistent person who coaxed/encouraged and forcibly convinced UQ to invest in commercialisation. His leadership and vision laid the foundations for continued success, notwithstanding the fine work of those who have succeeded him. Without his input (and the support of two consecutive Vice Chancellors) UQ would not have achieved the national and international outcomes that make them so proud today.

In terms of specific examples, David negotiated with UQ to provide significant ‘patient’ funding (that is, funding invested to make a return over a long period, rather than immediately) in his early days as Managing Director. David was “inspirational in getting the university (of Queensland) to capitalise its commercialisation arm to the tune of $5 million…No other university had ever done that – it was almost heresy.”

David conceived, garnered high level support for, and then successfully implemented the faculty/head office ‘hub and spoke’ model which is still the basic model for UniQuest today. Under this model, for the first time in Australia, commercialisation professionals were physically co-located with university researchers supporting them in identifying and then commercialising university IP. This significantly reduced IP ‘leakage’, made a generation of researchers commercially aware, and helped increase economic, social and environmental returns from publicly funded R&D. The approach is now an internationally recognized and successful technology transfer model.

During his tenure at UniQuest, David played a leading role in more than 50 commercialisation deals, including Prof Ian Frazer’s (2006 Australian of the year) Human Papilloma Virus (Cervical Cancer) Vaccine deal with CSL/Merck. They also included a deal with GE Medical Systems and Siemens to commercialise Prof David Doddrell’s eddy-current correction method for MRI. These deals are both regarded as benchmarks that set the standard for Australian commercialisation. Moreover, successful commercialisation of these technologies resulted in very significant economic returns to Australia, greatly increased the international profile of the strength of Australian science, and inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers. Professors Frazer and Doddrell have, rightly since, both been recipients of many awards for their contributions to science, the economy and society, including the ATSE Clunies Ross Medal.

David also worked extremely hard to make sure that UQ received a fair return from its investments in technology development. For example, with the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, he was instrumental in ensuring the original deal with CSL benefited the university (as well as the inventor and investors).

David also introduced his ideas and successes to other universities, and the model he implemented has subsequently been adopted in other public sector institutions, increasing ability to gain returns from public sector R&D.

In developing his model for technology transfer, David identified the lack of seed stage funding as a significant hindrance to innovation. Showing characteristic leadership, vision and persuasion, in 2000, he established and became CEO of Australia’s first university based Venture Capital Fund (Uniseed) with an initial capitalization of $20 million. $10 million from the University of Melbourne and $10 million from UQ. David’s legacy has subsequently seen Uniseed’s capitalisation exceed $60 million with the University of New South Wales and Westscheme (Western Australia’s largest non-government superannuation fund) joining as members of Uniseed.

Uniseed was set up to invest at the pre-seed stage in UQ and University of Melbourne start-up companies, giving them a better chance of reaching the seed capital investment stage. At the time this approach to commercialisation of university technology through support of the institutions themselves was revolutionary.

While David was CEO, Uniseed’s investments supported 15 new technology companies, including 12 in the life sciences. Among these, David identified, encouraged and/or supported the development of many of the now successful UQ start-ups: Magnetica, Xenome, TripleP, and Fultech. These companies alone have contributed many millions of dollars to the wider economy and The University of Queensland, supporting hundreds of research positions and providing resources to fund other university activities. The flow on economic, social and environmental benefits of their success and the resulting increased profile of Australian science are hugely significant.

In making these commercialisation successes, he also showcased the now well known researchers working on the technologies. Not only Professors David Doderell, and Ian Frazer (mentioned earlier) but also Stuart Crozier, Roger Drinkwater and Matt Sanderson.

David was also instrumental in securing key early stage investors for many start-up companies. He has the understanding of the venture capital environment and the passion to understand and explain technologies that allow investors to feel comfortable about the prospects that lie ahead. Redflow Limited (now trading on the Australian Stock Exchange – ASX RFX) is one such company.

In the period 2002 – 2005, David also made several significant contributions to other research based organizations looking to his leadership and vision for commercialisation. He provided consulting advice to the Australian Institute for Commercialisation and to the four universities that are Members of the National Stem Cell Centre Ltd (UNSW, Adelaide, Monash and Queensland). He acted as a Director of IMBcom, the commercialisation company for the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland; Anutech, the commercialisation company at the Australian National University; CAST Centre Pty Ltd, the management company for the CRC for Cast Metals Manufacturing; and two companies commercialising a new internal combustion engine technology, Ron Richards Engine Technologies and Toroidal Technology.

At the end of 2004, David was appointed Managing Director and CEO of Magnetic Limited. At Magnetica, David worked closely with the founding scientists, investors and the Board to commercialise magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology developed at UQ. His leadership and vision resulted in international partnerships (including Jastec, a subsidiary of Kobe Steel) and a collaboration that won a tender to develop a new ‘disruptive’ technology, a very high performance MRI magnet, now being sold to and incorporated in a new MRI system distributed globally by GE Healthcare.

Up until June 2010, he continued to seek out universities in Australia and overseas that might benefit from his ideas, and has inspired them to start thinking further about how best to create the structures that will support and nurture innovation, and enable the creators of new ideas as well as broader communities to share in the value they create. In 2008-2010 he worked in collaboration with the University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney and the University of New England in relation to what he calls “intentional innovation communities”. He also worked in collaboration with Penn State University to explore ways of piloting similar ideas in rural communities in Pennsylvania.

Many individuals, both commercialisation professionals and researchers/inventors, credit David with either seeding or supporting their careers. A generous mentor, David passion for innovation and the ability to implement a grand vision is contagious. He saw solutions where others see only obstacles; potential where others saw mediocrity and has an uncanny knack for spotting the ‘spark’ that becomes a great person, company or idea. Another constant throughout his career was his proud support and promotion of Australia and its ideas and impact.

Employees and colleagues from David’ time at UniQuest and Uniseed have gone on to set up and staff innovation sector enterprises around Australia. Anne-Marie Birkill is General Partner and Executive Director of One Ventures Innovation Fund, a $40 million innovation fund that is part of the Australian Government’s Innovation Investment Fund program. She is also one of the few female directors of an ASX listed technology company (RedFlow Limited). Michael Finney is the founding Chief Executive Officer of QUTbluebox, the commercialisation arm of the Queensland University of Technology. Andrew Davis is General Manager of UniQuest’s technology commercialisation team. He is also a Director of Magnetica (a company based on the magnetic resonance imaging capabilities developed at UQ); Coridon (a company commercialising new vaccine technologies developed by Ian Frazer and his team); and a number of other Australian technology start-ups. Nicky Milsom is Managing Director of Magnetica Limited.

Like many great men, David actively avoided seeking personal recognition or reward for his work; but his contributions should be noted and recognised.  Thank you David.  You gave so much.  The Australian technology transfer profession is very grateful.  May you rest in peace.

With GG outside*Thank you to Michael Finney for providing KCA with the above prose which was the basis for a nomination put forward for an Australia Day Honour in David’s name in 2013.  This was ultimately successful with David being recognised in the Australia Day Honours list for 2013 for his long service to innovation and science in Australia.  David was made a “Member of the Order of Australia” with the full citation being:  Dr David Alexander Evans, for significant service to science and innovation through commercialising and developing  new technologies.  On the right is a photo of David accepting his honour in Canberra.

Investing in the Future – Post Conference Wrap Up 2013

Investing in the Future was the theme of the 2013 KCA Annual Conference, held 13-15 November at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.  Attendees were privy to insights from a diverse array of speakers, covering topics across the spectrum from market conditions to funding to the fundamentals of the way we do business.

The cocktail reception kicked off proceedings on the Wednesday evening, and this year featured a pitching session as part of the program.  Following an excellent overview of funding trends in Australia from Jeremy Colless, eight representatives from across the country got up in front of the audience and eloquently pitched their ideas and technologies, showcasing just a handful of the amazing outcomes arising from some of our member organisations.

blog_image_1

Thursday’s program jumped right into it, delving into the future market needs of the Australian economy and things we all need to think about as we move into a knowledge based economy.  This included an overview of CSIRO’s response to emerging technology trends and global challenges, as well as a recent review from the UK as to the success of various interventions to Business-University Collaboration.

This was followed by an interesting discussion on changing trends in funding of technology development in Australia: highlighting outcomes and successes from Commercialisation Australia’s program, the challenges faced by traditional venture capital through to the emergence of accelerators and incubators, their relationship to corporate venture, and considering the extent to which we can successfully copy international initiatives in these areas. The need to think and act global right from day one was also a point that was made that has merit and would provide the innovation sector in Australia with the greatest opportunities.

Thursday afternoon we benefited from talks from some of our industry partners, who addressed both the opportunities and challenges they have faced in trying to collaborate with the university sector.  Representatives from Bluescope, 3M and Thales all spoke to a long history of maximising the benefit from that interaction – good examples of champions within companies who believe there is benefit to be had in collaborating with Universities and publicly funded research organisations. They also spoke to the role that they can play in acting as “technology” brokers to wider opportunities within their organisations and clients, and the challenges of effectively communicating a compelling business case through a long chain of command in larger businesses, to show how specifically a particular project aligns with the organisation’s strategic and commercial objectives.  Alignment of objectives is clearly a critical success factor in collaborative projects, and now we have some good tips as to how to do that better, and some great contacts in industry who are there to help the process.

Day one concluded with an overview of what’s happening across the landscape in other parts of the world, and it was interesting to learn that much of what we’re seeing here in Australia is happening across the Atlantic in the UK and parts of Europe.  The shift away from a narrower focus on licensing and patenting and the move to collaborative partnerships and Easy Access, as well as the integration of the commercial office into to fabric of University departments are just some of the common trends.  Similar trends can be seen in United States (US) and Canada.   Like Australia and the UK, research dollars are declining and offices and there are pressures to do more and be more involved in facilitating collaborative relationships both nationally and internationally.  The sharing of stories – the impact that research outcomes are having in the wider community – was another trend growing in the US, common to what we’re trying to do more of here in the Australian market.

Asia is a growing market for Australia, being so close both geographically and in terms of time.  Accessing this market is not as complicated as one might think – it’s just a matter of knowing how.  Strategic relationships, “piggy-backing,” and being willing to start small to get your foot in the door were just some of the ideas put forward to being successful at entering the Asian market.  Understanding cultural differences and the importance of investing in developing relationships, as well as making full use of your international faculty members were other key take-home points.

blog_image_3

Conference delegates were able to let down their hair after a hard day of intent learning, with a boat cruise and three course dinner around Sydney Harbour.  The photo booth and karaoke proved popular forms of social networking!

Friday morning the conference focussed back in on our own people and gave ideas as to how we can better invest in ourselves and our offices to improve what we do.  Social innovation and a shift towards focussing more resource to investigating the creative opportunities which lie within the social sciences faculties were mentioned many times throughout the morning.  The importance of brand and culture to an organisation’s success was also highlighted.  Values and vision were noted as core:  “Visionary, successful companies are guided by core values which include a sense of purpose, beyond making money.  Values do not drive the business – they drive the people within the business.”  Staff were reminded that they are the most important brand advocates: making sure everyone conveys the same consistent message is key.  Handled consistently, culture and brand can reinforce each other and build success.

Friday of the conference went out with a bang, with a highly energetic presentation about how to build trust with stakeholders in just one meeting.  In this industry we often only have one chance to make a killer first impression and 9 times out of 10 we all blow this chance because we are too busy focussing on ourselves and not focussing on what is truly important – the needs of the other person we are trying to engage.   In just one hour, we learnt some of the basics of how to shift our thinking away to help us refrain from some engaging in some of these detrimental behaviours, and began to understand the importance of being able to read others and adapt accordingly if we want them to begin to trust us.

Thank you to our sponsors once again for all your support – Wrays, Gemaker, Commercialisation Australia and Inteum – and to our members for your active participation during discussion time.

blog_image_2

NSW Government launches new initiative to connect innovative SMEs

The NSW Government has announced a new initiative to drive strategic collaboration between SMEs, researchers, major corporations and end-users to develop leading edge products and services in key industry sectors.

Named Innovate NSW and backed by $6.7 million in funding over four years, the state government says the initiative will address the State’s biggest economic growth barriers and drive rapid advances in NSW innovative and industry capability.

Innovate NSW will:

  • Provide matched financial assistance of up to $15,000 for around 250 individual firms with high growth potential for market or technology validation opportunities. A key aim is to support the development of deeper collaboration by SMEs with customers, researchers and global companies.
  • Bring together consortia of over 60 innovative SMEs, large companies, researchers and end-users to develop solutions to address challenges and opportunities.

“Innovate NSW will support collaborative projects with the potential to leverage significant investment and unlock sustained economic growth for the State,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner says. “It will provide targeted assistance to promote collaboration between innovative SMEs and global corporate partners to bring new products and services to market, and open up new high growth business and export opportunities.

Stoner says the new initiative will help address the relative lack of connection between SMEs, the research sector, and major Australian and global corporations.

“In a globally competitive environment we can no longer afford to allow limited resources, barriers to international markets, knowledge flows, weak intellectual asset management and lack of entrepreneurial capital act as brakes on our potential. Innovate NSW will offer a low cost and low risk opportunity for businesses to trial, fine tune and validate solutions with industry and government partners and thus provide a trusted reference for promoting future domestic and international sales.”

“We are pleased to work with the NSW government on this new initiative to support the development of deeper collaboration by SMEs with customers, researchers and global companies,” adds SME Association of Australia CEO Caroline Hong. The SME Association of Australia is the peak body and voice for SMEs and we look forward to working with the NSW government on this initiative.

“NSW, and Australia, needs a Minister for SMEs working with our association, to make this initiative succeed in international markets”