Thursday, April 29, 2010

Innovation week at ANU

Greeting from the last Innovation Week at ANU event for 2010 at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research), Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr. Thomas Barlow, research strategist, former political advisor and columnist for the Financial Times, and author of "The Australian Miracle". He talked about "Innovation in Australia". Thomas grove a humorous introduction describing the ANU as an oasis of civilisation in
the politics of Canberra. He then suggested Australian might be the only developed nation with an extended period of GDP growth in recent years.

He then explored the myth of the "lucky country" pointing out that Australian has high levels of working hours compared to other developed
nations and that even resources extraction requires technological skills and hard work. Australia's economic growth has been accompanied by an "explosion" in investment in R&D (1.7% of GDP?), greater than the UK.
Australian university have doubled their investment in R&D, joining the "category A" nations, with small populations.

Thomas claimed there have been a revolution in Australia's R&D capability, but few have noticed. However, his comparisons are with the USA and UK, which are now not leading technological countries. He argues that this is a perception problem and attributes this to the structure
of the Australian economy. Previously a major area for R&D was in telecommunications. This investment does not appears to have paid off,
in comparison with Finland: we do not have a Nokia. Australia has had a boom in the services sector. However, this is not visible to the general

Thomas pointed to Westfield has a highly innovative company developing shopping malls. Australian IT companies adapt existing technologies developed elsewhere which help other industries. The Australian coal industry invests heavily in mathematics.

Australian is at the bottom of the "category A" pack of countries. As a result very high levels of investment are needed to create outstanding
universities, Thomas suggests. Instead Australia spreads its investments across a large number of institutions across the country. Also Australia
invests in more researchers, rather than giving each researcher more.

There is a bifurcation happening between research and teaching at university. Those doing teaching are finding it harder to access reach
grants, even as those increase.

All this was good news: we are doing better than we thought, but Thomas argues that this is now a problem. The "Luck Country" adapted technology
from the world. The mood changed to say that Australia had to build its own unique technology. Australia is now providing resources and ingenuity to allow China and India to industrialise. Thomas argues that it is dangerous for Australia to try and emulate China or Finland.

This was a passionate presentation, but at the end I was not clear as to what it was we should be doing.

I asked what we, as a nation should do (on the assumption that minister's offices will be reading this blog posting). The response was that Australia should take the best ideas from round the world and build on them. Universities should aim for high visibility, high impact work.

He said that numerous specialised schemes to help individual industries should be scrapped.

Dr Alex Zelinsky Information Sciences at CSIRO then argued the problem was not government programs, but a cultural issue. Alex has a slide with a photo of a person holding a light bulb. Light bulbs seem to be a theme of innovation events. He injected a does of practicality by pointing out that innovations have to be desirable and viable in the marketplace (or for society generally).

Alex showed examples of unusual inventions which were very original, but did not really meet an unmet need. He argued that innovation is about people building teams, rather than technological gadgetry. Judgement is needed to asses how mature a technology is and when t is time to protect the intellectual property.

Alex pointed out that commercialising research requires 10 to 20 times as much money as the prototype development cost. "Smart money" investors provide relationships as well as early stage funding.

Alex then went through some examples, starting with "Seeing Machines", which listed n the London Stock Exchange, five years ago. It had a way to monitor the face of a driver of a car for safety reasons, funding by Volvo. Seeing machines started without a strategy or plan, simply with
the aim for a spin-off company. Instead of a mass market product costing $200 for the automotive market, the company instead produced technology for medical diagnosis of glaucoma. Alex pointed out that the profit margin for medical instruments was far larger than for automotive equipment. Medical researchers were encourages to publish papers about the product, to confirm its strong research underpinnings.

A higher profile success is CSIRO's patents for the wireless LAN. The CSIRO IP was turned into a chip set used by CISCO. So far CSIRO has
received $US200M with much more to come. The work has a strategy. Alex suggested that this was a good model for new developments, in areas of
optical communications, data storage and clean technology.

The last example Alex gave was the application of optical analysis for driver fatigue, but not for passenger cars, but in very large and expensive mining vehicles. Apart from higher margins, a benefit of this market is that trucks are much roomier than cars, and off the shelf equipment can be used, rather than miniaturised custom equipment. This provided an example of an adaptation for an existence Australian industry: mining.

This was the third and last of the innovation week events. While better than the first of the week, it was not as good as the usual weekly ACT
Innovation presentation. The lesson I have taken away from the week is that innovation is about doing things, not talking about them.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Australian Innovation Festival

Apparently this week is the Australian Innovation Festival. I only know this because it was mentioned at the ACT Innovation event. I don't rally know what it is, having see nothing else about it. This evening there was a large pile of brochures at the door. These appear to be about the festival, judging by the cover, but seem to contain nothing but PR material and advertisements. I had difficulty finding anything about the actual event. But there is a web address on the cover, so I will have a look at that:

Even without using the web address it tells me something: this is very similar to the ACT Innovation web address and so may well be related. Having clicked on the web address I am still none the wiser, as so far noting has loaded. I am using a slow wireless Internet connection at present and it seems this web page has not been designed with this in mind.

In the interim John got my attention by using the example of turning a problem into a solution with Staten drugs for reducing cholesterol.

It has been several minutes at the supposed Australian Innovation web site still has not arrived. So I decided to run a few tests to see what might be the problem with the web site. These are the sort of tests my second year ANU web design students learn to do on their assignments.

The first test is to validate the HTML of the web page. The Australian Innovation web page failed this test with 96 Errors. This is a very large number of errors. Students are expected to have no errors on their web pages and a typical web page might have a half dozen errors.

The second test I usually run is for mobile ok. This tests how well the web page will work on the typical mobile phone. Unfortunately the test failed to complete.

John got my attention again by mentioning Bob Clifford, Tasmanian large fast ferry builder. John pointed out that having a ferry tied up at the factory unsold represents millions of dollars. It happens that I met Mr. Clifford once on the bridge of one of his ships at an Olympic Games function (the US DoD now buys such ships from Australia). He surprised me by leaving me in charge of the ship, while he popped down stairs. Fortunately it was tied up at a wharf, but it was still lonely on the bridge.

The third test I usually run is for accessibility. An automated TAW test, which reported thirteen priority 1 problems, 56 Priority 2 and one Priority 3 problems.

At this point the web site finally appeared after several minutes. From first glance, it is obvious why the page took so long to load: there are a lot of high resolution graphics and animation on the page. Unfortunately none of this has helped me find out what the event is about. There are photos of unidentified people along with large blocks of test appearing. But these are disappearing before I can read the text, or work out who these mysterious people are. There are also lots of maps and logos which suggest this is an important and well supported event, but I am still none the wiser as to what it actually is. So far about all I know is that this web site must have cost a lot of money to develop.

Here is the text of the page:

Australian Innovation

* Home * Festivals * Events * News * Publications * Get involved * AusInnovation TV * About Us * Supporters * Newsletters * Login

The future is electric - GM concept car

Take a look inside GM's new EN-V concept car as Chris Borroni-Bird explains how this zero-emission, electric vehicle ...

National News

Startup Camp (Melbourne) 2010 consisted of 30 university students - Read more

From little things, big things grow. Take Google, the brainchild - Read more

New discoveries happen through perseverance in the pursuit of a - Read more

A strong and efficient intellectual property (IP) system is a - Read more

What makes an organisation successful? Able to grow and prosper - Read more
Innovation News

Since the industrial revolution, burning fossil fuel has been - Read more

Innovation remains key to meeting future challenges, enhancing - Read more

In this International Year of Biodiversity it is appropriate that we - Read more

NSW Manufacturing Week aims to inspire and encourage manufacturers to - Read more

As the Minister for Education, I see investments in people, places - Read more

Top Stories - 12 total ( view all )

* The Pursuit of Happiness - Video
* Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy - Video
* 170,000 bouncy balls make good advertising - Video
* Social Entrepreneurship: Creating Change - Video
* The growth of the internet and social networking - Video
* Unlocking your business innovation - World Innovation Forum - Video
* [Comedy] What Google might be thinking - Video
* How TV shows are actually created - Video
* [Amazon] Jeff Bezos’s on regret minimisation - Video
* [TED] Lead your tribe - Video
* The sky is the limit - Video
* BMW (South Africa). Defining innovation. - Video

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This suggests that the web page is a collection of events to do with innovation. The rapidly changing content on the home page appear to be examples of events. Exactly who is doing this, or why, is not clear. A search of the ASIC database shows there is an organisation AUSTRALIAN INNOVATION PTY. LTD, created 04/06/2009.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Innovation in the Cafe

Greetings from table 24 at the Vanilla Bean Cafe for InnovationACT in 2010. at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research), Australian National University in Canberra. Tonight's Seminar is a Panel Discussion hosted by Lighthouse Innovation on "The Innovation Mindset" with: Glenn Dickins and others.

Normally the innovation sessions start with drinks in the foyer of the medical research building and then we move into the lecture theatre for the formal presentation. This evening I was surprised when everyone went the other direction and instead filed into the cafe, on the other side of the foyer. This is my second favourite cafe on the ANU campus, after the Purple Pickle. The panel session is being held cafe style, with the MC at the podium in front of the drinks cabinet and the panelists on a sofa. The audience is at tables.

It may seem unusual to hold a university innovation session in a cafe. However, for many years I have done some of my most productive work in cafe, the informal atmosphere combines with a concentration of creative people. As an example, to day at lunchtime I was called over to a table the the Purple Pickle and introduced to someone who has $1.4M in government money for a project in an area I am working on. In addition "cabaret" style is a recognised type of education room design.

The setup this evening could do with some improvements. There are microphones in place but these are only used for the video recording of the event, not for sound reinforcement in the room. The presenters are in front of the drinks cabinet which has a noisy refrigeration system. It would work better to place the speakers at the opposite end of the room, which is quieter.

The audience are as interesting mix of people as the panelists: there are students from a wide range of areas from both the ANU and University of Canberra, as well as staff. One of my students came up to me and I was worried they would ask about the mark for their last assignment. Instead they asked about how the might implement the web interface for the innovation project they are developing for Innovation ACT. Another ex-student is working on e-government with NICTA.

After typing all that I have tuned in to what the panel are actually saying: "Never overvalue the time you sent on an idea: if it is not a good idea it is worth nothing." Glenn Dickins has just commented on the difference between two technology development: the super-capacitor and the iPad. He argued that the super-capacitor is revolutionary but will not be visible to the end user, whereas the iPad is an evolutionary development of existing technology but will appear revolutionary to the user. An interesting question from the audience was "Where are the women in innovation? All the panel and most of the room are men.". The moderator is female and commented that most of the innovators they see are male. However, they commented that women tended to produce social innovations, rather than strictly technical ones. This is an insightful comment, with many real ideas being about how to do something together, not a gadget to do it with.

I asked the panel if the Californian silicon valley culture translates around the world. I have been to Google Sydney's office and found that it was set up very much the same at Microsoft Cambridge Research Labs (UK). The panel commented that different cultures will have different needs (Microsoft Zurich Labs will be different as it is in a Swiss culture). The moderator then asked about the "Innovation Room" and the panel all nodded, but no one explained what this was all about. But I did find the book "Secrets from the Innovation Room" (Kay Allison, 2004).

The moderator suggested that to test if you really understand your innovative idea, try to explain it to your grandmother.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Innovation Training

At the "Innovation ACT" launch Thursday night there was mention of a "certificate in commercialisation". This is the ANU Graduate Certificate in Commercialisation (CTS), run by the College of Business and Economics:
The objective of the Graduate Certificate in Commercialisation is to equip students with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to bring research-based ideas, inventions and innovations to market, and to contribute to Australia’s economic and social and environmental wellbeing through commercial benefits generate from enhanced delivery of innovation research based products and services. ...
Being a certificate, it requires the equivalent of one semester full time study, made up of semester length (13 week) courses (13 weeks) and intensive (7-10 week) units.

The course consists of:

The most interesting part of this is "Entrepreneurship and New Venture Planning":

Entrepreneurship and New Venture Planning introduces students to the process of identifying new business opportunities, researching and writing a business plan around those opportunities. The students also make an oral presentation of their business plan to an examiners panel – representing hypothetical investors. The students also prepare a personal learning report which reviews how the course has added to their understanding of general management issues. The course gives students practice in managing a group project over an extended timeframe and requires them to draw on all of the core disciplines of management – new concept development, marketing, financing, organisational development and strategy. In this way, the course integrates the learning delivered in specialised courses on these and other management disciplines. The course commences with a series of classroom lectures on principals and processes in opportunity identification, entrepreneurship and business planning. The lectures are reinforced with progress workshops where the students review the work they are doing on their plans with a faculty mentor.

This fits well with the Innovation ACT program, where teams progress a real projects trough stages.

There is some government funding government funding for the program which students can apply for ( Commonwealth Supported Places CSP).

There are a few limitations with the certificate. It appears to be designed for, and only available to, PhD and Masters by Research students at ANU. So postgraduate students doing coursework, including those doing my Green IT Strategies course could not do the certificate. Also there is no distance education e-learning option offered, so students are limited to being at the ANU campus in Canberra.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

World's Coolest Cities for Innovation

The "Innovation ACT" program for 2010 was launched last night at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research), Australian National University, Canberra. The keynote speaker was Glenn Dickins, Senior Staff Research Engineer at Dolby and entrepreneur, who has an ANU PHD in Engineering. Glenn talked about how to be an entrepreneur, including the pleasures of being able to innovate in the coolest cities in the world, nominating Helsinki at the top.

Innovation ACT allows ANU and University of Canberra students to learn to innovate, taking their ideas from research to the market. The program does not cover for-profit ideas but also those for the public good.

Professor Shannon from UoC talked at the launch. Innovation ACT has distributed more than $100,000 so far. Professor Mick Cardew-Hall spoke next, commenting that the program is run by students for students.

One problem I have with the Innovation ACT program is that it is not part of formal ANU or UoC courses. However, there was mention at the launch of a "certificate in commercialisation", where for ANU and UoC students can suspend studies for six months. Unfortunately no further details were given and it was not clear tio me why the students had to suspend their studies for this, rather than have it opart of their program.

The 2010 logo for Innovation ACT is an old fashioned light bulb with a wind turbine instead of a filament. I have no idea what this is intended to represent. You can follow Innovation ACT on Twitter.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Implant Technologies for bionic eyes and ears

Dr John Parker will talk on “The Implant Systems Experiment” in Canberra, Wednesday 7th April 2010.
Big Picture Seminar Series
Increasing the chances for commercialisation of Research “The Implant Systems Experiment
Dr John Parker, CTO, Implant Systems NICTA
When: 12.15pm for 12.30pm start Wednesday 7th April
Where: NICTA Seminar Room, Ground Floor, 7 London Circuit, Civic
RSVP: by Tuesday 6th April

Dr Parker spearheads NICTA’s Implant Technologies Group. He has been an Executive Director and CTO of Cochlear Limited and is an experienced director of both listed and non listed companies and CRC’s.

The power of modern electronics and computer science has far exceeded our ability to deploy them in active medical devices. Complex systems for sensing and
controlling and affecting a therapeutic biological response are “easily” demonstrated on the bench but defy continual operation inside the body and as
a result even the most technically advanced implantable devices remain very simple.

The architecture of neuro-modulation systems hasn’t changed in 25 years despite the technical advances in allied disciplines. This stagnation is due to a lack of a number of platform technologies, tissue interfaces,
packaging and scalable system architectures.

It is the development of these technologies, which are the focus of the research effort at NICTA’s Implant Systems group.

From: The Implant Systems Experiment, Big Picture Seminar Series, NICTA, 2010

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaching Researchers to be Entrepreneurs

InnovationACT provides free training in entrepreneurship and $70,000 of awards for ANU and University of Canberra staff and students. This year's program is being launched 6pm, 8 April 2010 at Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research (please RSVP). Last year I gave the participants a talk on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT".

There are slides and videos of last year's presentations available online. I have suggested this be turned into a formal assessable course, so student get credit for taking part.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Open Innovation Entering the Mainstream

Open Innovation in Global Networks (OECD 2008) is a 132 page (2.5 Mbyte PDF). Ironically, while advocating openness in research, the OECD have issued their report as a read only PDF file (with a copyable executive summary). The PDF e-Book version is sold for US $22 and the print paperback edition, including the PDF version, for US $33. There is a
short readable article from the OECD staff "Making the Most of Open Innovation in Post-crisis Era" (Andrew WYCKOFF & Miriam KOREEN).

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Open Innovation in Global Networks

The concept of open innovation Applications of open innovation: user innovation, lead markets and open source Open innovation in the innovation literature Drivers of open innovation: demand and supply factors Global networks and innovation ecosystems Open innovation across industries Modes of open innovation The advantages and disadvantages of global innovation networks Global innovation networks and intellectual property

Chapter 2. Empirical Measures of Open Innovation

Case studies and surveys

Trends in R&D collaboration
Innovation surveys: the role of networks and collaboration
Patents: co-inventions and co-applications
Trends in licensing
Some tentative conclusions

Chapter 3. Insights from the Company Case Studies

General overview
Quantitative findings on the globalisation of innovation
Qualitative findings: open innovation on a global scale
Towards an integrated model of open innovation

Chapter 4. Policy Implications

Policy issues related to globalisation and open innovation
Policy responses
Towards a different innovation policy? ...

Executive Summary

Globalisation increasingly affects how companies in OECD countries
operate, compete and innovate, both at home and abroad. Global competition
drastically shortens product life cycles, while the growing integration of
different technologies makes innovation riskier and more costly. Companies
more and more internationalise knowledge-intensive corporate functions,
including R&D, and simultaneously open up their innovation process to
collaborate with external partners (suppliers, customers, universities, etc.).
This clearly has important implications for policy making, given the
contribution of (business) innovation to economic growth.

In order to match the growing demand for innovation from customers,
suppliers, etc., with the worldwide supply of science and technology, (large)
companies increasingly adopt so-called “ecosystems of innovation” across
countries. They link into these global innovation networks with people,
institutions (universities, government agencies, etc.) and other companies in
their own or different countries to solve problems, source knowledge and
generate ideas. These global innovation networks include own R&D facilities
abroad as well as collaborative arrangements with external partners and
suppliers, in which firms depend in various ways on the expertise of the
different partners.

While open innovation is not totally new, the organisation of innovative
activities (technological as well as non-technological) across firm boundaries
is clearly on the increase, with more balance between internal and external
sources of innovation. Other terms have also been used to describe this trend,
and all stress to some extent the openness of innovation activities: open
source, open standard, open research, user-driven innovation, etc. The fact
that the term “open” is usually thought of as cost-free creates confusion;
however, in contrast to open source, for example, open innovation typically
implies the payment of licence fees as well as other financial arrangements. In
this context, therefore, open does not mean free.

New evidence on global innovation networks based on case studies as
well as on large-scale data sets shows that:

  • The main reason for locating research and/or development facilities abroad
    is the proximity of large and growing markets. Other important factors are the availability of engineers and researchers, and the company’s proximity
    to other activities (production, sales).
  • Suppliers and customers are the most sought-after innovation partners.
    While universities and public research institutes are generally considered
    an important source of knowledge for companies’ innovation activities,
    especially in more upstream research and exploration activities, they
    represent only a small share of innovation collaborations.
  • Larger firms innovate more openly than small firms. Innovation survey data
    indicate that large companies are four times more likely than small and
    medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to collaborate on innovation.
  • Geographical proximity matters in global innovation networks. Companies
    seem to prefer innovation partners that are geographically close. As the
    only information available concerns the number of collaborations, however,
    the fact that companies may enter collaborations with more distant
    partners only if they are strongly motivated by market demand or
    excellence seeking may be masked.
  • Differences among industries are significant. Collaboration on innovation is
    important in manufacturing as well as in services, notwithstanding some
    differences among countries. Industries such as chemicals,
    pharmaceuticals and information and communication technology (ICT)
    typically show high levels of open innovation.

The degree of openness in innovation models differs, depending on
factors such as the importance of the technology, the strategy of the firm, the
characteristics of the industry, etc. Companies traditionally seek to retain
their core capabilities and determine what to outsource or with whom to
collaborate. Their core competencies (in technology and markets) are
developed internally to the greatest extent possible, but open innovation may
be a faster, less risky alternative to internal development in order to diversify
(in terms of technology and/or markets).

In industries characterised by rather short technology life cycles, e.g. the
ICT, electronics and telecommunications industry, companies have sought
external partners in order to keep up with new developments in and around
their industry. In industries characterised by rather long technology life cycles
and strong protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) (e.g. pharmaceutical,
chemical and materials industries), companies mainly look outside the firm to
keep up with research. In industries in which patents are important but can be
more easily circumvented (e.g. the transport equipment industry and the fastmoving
consumer goods industry), companies set up collaborations to keep
pace with new developments. They seek technologies or products that have
proven their market potential, which they can improve, scale up and

The largest benefit of open innovation is a much larger base of ideas and
technologies. Companies source external knowledge in various ways:
partnerships with external parties (alliances, joint ventures, joint
development, etc.); or acquisition or sale of knowledge (contract R&D,
purchasing, licensing). In addition to these common modes, open innovation
is increasingly realised through corporate venturing (equity investments in
university spin-offs or in venture capital investment funds).

Open innovation is not only about sourcing external knowledge
(“outside-in”) as companies look for ways to generate additional revenue
from in-house innovations (“inside-out”) especially when the technology
has future potential but is not part of the firm’s core strategy. Companies
also increasingly use venturing to find external partners for
commercialising innovations that are not used internally (divestment, spinout,

Theft of intellectual property (IP) is seen as the most important risk to
global innovation networks. Unique knowledge may be revealed to external
partners that may later become competitors. Working closely with external
partners can create uncertainty about the appropriation of the benefits of
technology collaboration. When collaborating with larger companies, SMEs
especially may face larger risks because they typically have fewer resources
and limited expertise in IPR issues. The effective management of IP is crucial
for identifying useful external knowledge and particularly for capturing the
value of a firm's own intellectual property rights (IPR).

Successful open innovation also depends on the open character of the
business model. As knowledge has become companies’ key resource, open
innovation needs to be embedded in an overall business strategy that
explicitly acknowledges the potential use of external ideas, knowledge and
technology in value creation. Owing to the integration of different
technologies, industry borders are shifting or even disappearing, necessitating
new business models and organisational structures, including the effective
management of human capital (open culture, diversity, etc.).

Global innovation networks significantly influence national and regional
innovation systems. The ecosystems or networks of innovation of
multinational enterprises (MNEs) create cross-border nodes between regional/
national systems of innovation. MNEs also link S&T actors in different
countries, and their ecosystems often span clusters and industrial districts in
specific industries across countries. In this context, geographical proximity
permits localised learning.

Science, technology and innovation policies can no longer be designed
solely in a national context. As a country’s attractiveness as a location for R&D
and innovation activity becomes a priority, framework conditions that affect the location of production as well as costs (production, labour, tax) become
critical. Appropriate structural policies, such as labour market and
competition policies, as well as the public infrastructure for innovation and a
highly skilled workforce, are essential.

In addition, global innovation networks have some more specific policy

  • Universities and public research organisations increasingly play a
    significant role in the open innovation strategies of firms both as a source of
    basic knowledge and as potential partners. Support for basic research must
    therefore continue. Given the scarcity of public resources and competition
    to attract R&D-related foreign direct investment (FDI), countries must
    balance their research efforts and investments in specific fields with the
    need to be open and develop sufficient absorptive capacity in a range of
  • World-class clusters and networks remain important but integration across
    fields and borders may require different interfaces and competencies. The
    potential for innovation depends on how well knowledge flows and how
    well the system is connected: policies to foster or enable the development
    of world-class clusters and networks.
  • Sharing intellectual property may require different kinds of management
    tools in firms and public research organisations. Companies participating in
    national R&D programmes may need to share IP with foreign subsidiaries/
    partners or seek to commercialise it in foreign markets, but may be
    constrained by national regulations.
  • Investing in people and fostering cross-functionality and mobility and a
    “culture of innovation” is crucial, as open innovation implies that people
    must be able to work in networks and across borders, sectors and at the
    interface of converging technologies. It also requires openness to a
    geographically mobile workforce.
  • Open innovation stresses the broad characteristics of innovation. Much
    public support for innovation still focuses on R&D and technological
    innovation and less on non-technological innovation or other forms of
    user-driven innovation. While open innovation involves service firms,
    much public support for innovation still targets manufacturing firms.
    Policy attention focuses more on the supply side of innovation and less on
    building market demand for innovation (e.g. through publ ic
  • National R&D programmes need to be more open while ensuring benefits
    via reciprocity and cost-sharing agreements. Also arising from open
    innovation is the question of capturing national benefits from cross-border
    spillovers of the ecosystems of innovative firms. Potential national benefits
    must be communicated and demonstrated to public stakeholders.
  • Building a strong knowledge base is necessary to develop next-generation
    innovation policies and best practices. A strong knowledge base will be
    necessary to identify policy implications and develop next-generation
    innovation policies and best practices. OECD work over the coming years
    will seek to address these issues. ...

From: Open Innovation in Global Networks, OECD 2008

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meet ICT Company Founders in Canberra

National ICT Australia (NICTA) is running a "Meet the Founder Series" talk every two months in Canberra. These start with Mr Murray Rankin, Founder of The Distillery and Rankin Securities on 9 March 2010.
Meet the Founder Series
Entrepreneurs sharing their experiences
Mr Murray Rankin
Entrepreneurial Pitfalls – Look Before You Leap
When: 5.30pm for Canapes
9th March

Murray Rankin has extensive domestic and international experience in both the public and private sectors. He is best known as a Founder of The Distillery, a Canberra based global technology success story.

Murray was responsible for growing the Distillery from two founders in 1997 to a global company with 130 employees operating in the ACT, US, UK, NZ, South Africa and Asia.

Where: NICTA Seminar Room, Ground Floor, 7 London Circuit, Civic

RSVP: by Thursday 4th March

Upcoming Talks

  • Mr Ken Kroeger - Founder Healthcube and Catalyst Interactive, 4th May
  • Mr Bob Quodling - Founder Simmersion Holdings Pty Ltd, 13th July
  • Mr Brand Hoff - Founder Tower Software, 14th September
  • Mr Scott Rashleigh - Founder AOFR, 9th November

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Australian National Enabling Technologies Strategy

Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, yesterday launched the National Enabling Technologies Strategy with $18.2M to upgrade the National Measurement Institute, $10.6M for policy and regulatory development, industry uptake, international engagement and strategic research and $9.4M for public awareness and community engagement.


  1. A national approach
    Through the Strategy, a collaborative effort and joint activities will be encouraged between Federal, State and Territory governments and agencies and a wide range of stakeholders, consistent with the aims of the Strategy. More information is available on the Stakeholder Advisory Council and the Commonwealth State Working Group which are being established under the Strategy.
  2. Balancing risk and reward
    The Strategy will support the appropriate coverage of enabling technologies in policy and regulatory frameworks, and support Government agencies to ensure that Government policy is informed by an understanding of health, safety, environmental, social and economic considerations. More information is available on the HSE activities taking place under NETS, and also on the international engagement activities taking place under NETS.
  3. Engaging with the public
    The Enabling Technologies Public Awareness and Community Engagement program will provide balanced and factual information on enabling technologies to inform public debate, and to encourage greater community engagement in debates about the development and use of enabling technologies.
  4. Developing measurement capabilities
    The National Measurement Institute (NMI) will develop measurement infrastructure, expertise and standards for nanotechnology and biotechnology (nanometrology and biometrology).
  5. Using technology for a better future
    The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research will increase government, industry and the community's understanding of the ways in which applications of enabling technologies may help to address major global and national challenges and increase industry productivity, and will encourage the responsible development and uptake of these technologies.
  6. Planning for the Future
    The Strategy will assist Government, researchers, industry and other stakeholders to prepare for the advent of new technologies by undertaking foresighting activities and supporting the development policy and regulatory frameworks. An Expert Forum of 8 to 10 people will be established in 2010 to guide the Strategy’s technology foresighting activities.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Peer-to-Patent Project

QUT have joined the New York Law School's Peer-to-Patent project to addresses the examination and quality of business methods and computer software patents. They are looking for volunteers to review patents.

The first time I got this I asked "why should I help someone make money out dubious patents?". Ben McEniery, Project Manager at Queensland University of Technology explained that the project is about stopping dubious patents:
Peer-to-Patent Australia ( is a project that aims to re-establish the rightful balance between the interests of the public and and the rights of patentees. The project seeks to protect the public's right to access new ideas by ensuring that patents that lack novelty or the requisite degree of inventiveness are not granted.

The project addresses the examination and quality of business methods and computer software patents.

We are looking to build a community of volunteers to review participating patent applications and bring relevant prior art to the attention of IP Australia’s patent examiners.

The project is based on the Peer-to-Patent project run by the New York Law School (NYLS) and is the result of the collaborative efforts between QUT and NYLS. The project will initially run as a six-month pilot that will focus on the rapidly advancing technology areas of business methods and computer software. Up to 40 business method, computer software and related patent applications that have been filed in Australia and which are open for public inspection will each be posted on the Peer-to-Patent Australia website for a 90-day period. During that time, members of the community can review those applications, submit prior art references and comment on the relevance of any prior art that has been put forward.

At the end of the review period, Peer-to-Patent Australia will forward the top 10 prior art submissions for each application, as selected by the community of reviewers, to IP Australia for consideration in the examination process. The review process in no way abrogates the responsibility of the patent examiner to assess a patent application. Prior art submitted by Peer-to-Patent Australia is solely designed to assist a patent examiner, who remains the arbiter of whether a patent is to be granted.

There are currently 15 patent applications from seven companies open for review. The participating companies include IBM, Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited, General Electric Company, Hewlett-Packard, Residex Pty Ltd, Yahoo and CSIRO.

Since the focus of the pilot is on business methods and related applications, there is an interesting array of new ideas and technologies in the applications that are open for review. Those applications include methods, systems and apparatus for:
  • converting a decimal number to a binary representation based on processor size;
  • detecting behavioural patterns related to the financial health of a business entity;
  • an arrangement where a customer enters into an agreement with a lender to share equity in real estate property;
  • efficient cooling of server farms;
  • refining mobile device search results using location modifiers;
  • integrating browsing histories with media playlists on a media playback device;
  • interactive specification of context-sensitive service level agreements;
  • controlling a network of trains; and
  • gaming machine systems and methods.
Those wishing to review participating patent applications can register at:

At the moment, we are looking to build our community of reviewers. Any assistance you might give by promoting the project would be greatly appreciated.

Ben McEniery

Peer-to-Patent Australia Project Manager
Faculty of Law
Queensland University of Technology
CRICOS Institution Code: 00213J
GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4000

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design

For years people have been mentioning TED to me. But it was only after hearing about it on radio that I signed up (thus the power of old media). TED standards for "Technology, Entertainment, Design" and is a not for profit organisation which has been running conferences since 1984. They now have a web site where anyone can watch videos or inspiring speakers and enter discussions. There are also two annual conferences, in California and Oxford and some in Asia.

TED is not perfect. It has a bit too much of that USA East Coast enthusiasm in it for my liking. Also I had some difficulty with the web site, which is a little too Web 2.0 to work well on my low bandwidth wireless set-up. I was not able to upload a photo for my profile.

While I was at it I ran some tested on the TED home page. It gets a poor score of 30/100 on the W3C Mobile test. The page has 48 errors on a W3C HTML test. It had 4 Priority One and 7 Priority Two problems on the TAW automated Accessibility test. These are things TED need to fix if they want to achieve their aims of speeding ideas more widely across the world.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Cambridge Phenomenon

In looking for material on e-learning at Cambridge, I stumbled across a reference to something I wrote in 1996 about "The Cambridge Phenomenon" (Segal, Quince and Partners, 1985). This was a study of why high technology start-up companies had been so successful around Cambridge University (UK). In 1996 I visited Cambridge University and discussed start ups with Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer. He mentioned the report, which I found in the ANU Library, wrote a summary of and then used in a presentation to the ACS: "Canberra: Cambridge or Thebes?". Because the original report was not available online, Ross Anderson and others at Cambridge University had referecned this summary. But what I have now noticed is that the talk itself was reverenced in "A pilot study on the emergence of university-level innovation policy in the UK" by Finbarr Livesey, Eoin O’Sullivan, Jonathan Hughes, Rob Valli and Tim Minshall (Working Paper 2008/1, Centre for Economics and Policy, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, March 2008).

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Creative Ecologies and New Business Models

John HowkinsJohn Howkins, author of "The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas" (2002) and the forthcoming "Creative Ecologies: Where Thinking is a Proper Job" (UQ Press, April 2010) will talk on "Creative Ecologies and New Business Models", in Canberra, 26 November 2009:
How can we harness creative ecologies and discover the business environments in which creativity and innovation best thrive?

The Creative Industries Innovation Centre, in partnership with the University of Canberra, invites you to attend a special event by world-renowned creative industry expert, John Howkins. He will be joined by University of Canberra graduate, Michael Tear, who is a member of the CIIC Advisory Board and Managing Director of Bearcage Productions.

"Creative Ecologies and New Business Models"

Thursday 26 November 2009
4.30pm start for 5pm-7pm

The University of Canberra
Innovation Centre Foyer
Building 22
University Drive South

RSVP: Tracy Doherty

Phone: (02) 6201 5995
Disability access is available.

Parking information: Parking is available in the car park directly across from the Innovation
Centre (see map attached).

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Startups in Sydney

Greetings from "Startup BarCamp Sydney" at the Australian Technology Park as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009. I volunteered to talk on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT" at 12:30pm. But I broadened this to talk about the process Innovation ACT uses to teach entrepreneurship to students at the Australian National University and University of Canberra and ended up with "Entrepreneurs for climate change mitigation".

The BarCamp is being held in the Innovation Centre at the ATP. For me this is a bit like coming home. In 1998 I used the ATP as an example of how technology innovation should be done in Australia. This was meant to be just an example, but the government appeared to take this advice literally and set up the National ICT Centre of Excellence (NICTA) in the building. I was last here for the CSIRO ICT Centre conference two weeks ago. What I didn't realise is that the ATP is home to ATP Innovations, which is part owned by the ANU.

This Bar Camp has a wider range of participant than BarCamp Canberra, which was focused on web and government. At this event there is one delegate is selling coconuts (for eating and drinking) and another solar thermal power stations.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Startup BarCamp Sydney

"Startup BarCamp Sydney" is being held 21 November 2009 at the Australian Technology Park for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009. I have volinteered to talk on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT", which I talked to Innovation ACT about a few monts ago . For those not familiar with the BarCamp format, it can be a bit bewildering. In addition to the celibrity speakers, anyone can present. The rohbust audince participation can also be a bit confronting. The event is free, funded by the sponsors. To participate you edit the home page to add your details and proposed topic. This can see a bit like the Merry Pranksters meet the Calfornian Business Assocation.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Social Networking System for Innovation in Canberra

Greetings from launch of the Innovation ACT Portal at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research) the Australian National University in Canberra. This is a new social media enhanced web site designed to help students and staff at the ANU and University of Canberra to get together to turn their research into products and services. The new web site will be used in the Innovation ACT program which teaches innovation and then has a competitive process. The ACT Department of Business and Industry Development has funded a new web portal.

This year I talked to the Innovation ACT participants about "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT". Next year the Innovation ACT Portal will include a boot camp for new entrepreneurs and an "i-Prize" for addressing an important social issue.

"No matter what your achievements or future plans, chances are you will need to operate within the world of business. Whether you are planning to be the next high flying entrepreneur, an eminent scientist or one of the literati, you will need to attract funding, obtain industry support or get your own business running to disseminate your ideas.

InnovationACT will give you the skills you need to understand all aspects of business and commercialisation, as well as the chance to be awarded up to $20,000 for your business plan.

InnovationACT provides eight weeks of seminars and mentoring from industry leaders and business professionals. Each team will be guided through the process of writing a professional business plan and could be awarded up to $20 000 by our panel of judges.

Open to all staff and students at the Australian National University and the University of Canberra, with no costs and no strings attached. Come along to learn and mingle with industry professionals or put together a winning team and submit a business plan.

Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged and we provide team formation opportunities. ..."

From: InnovationACT, Innovation ACT Ltd., 2009.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Social Networking for Teaching Innovation

InnovationACT is a program for Australian National University and University of Canberra students to learn entrepreneurship.
The ACT Department of Business and Industry Development has funded a new web portal, to be launched 27th October 2009 at 6pm in the Finkel Lecture Theatre at The John Curtin School of Medical Research. The web portal will use social networking for teaching innovation. For catering purposes please RSVP to

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Innovation and carbon emissions

Greetings from Innovation ACT at the Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU campus, Canberra. Staff and students of the Australian National University and the University of Canberra are learning how to turn their inventions into products and services. I will be talking at about 7pm on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT". The session is being recorded and will be available via the Innovation ACT web site. Also I am trying to use a Web Meeting for this.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT

I will be talking on "Innovating to lower costs and carbon emissions with ICT" at the Innovation ACT Seminar , 6pm, 3 June 2009 at the Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU campus, Canberra (Map). For catering purposes please RSVP to This is a free event sponsored by the Australian National University and the University of Canberra:

Innovation ACT promotes the learning and understanding necessary for the development and commercialisation of a viable product. One area entrepreneurs can seek to commercialise are socially and environmentally sustainable business practices. An example of this are new methods, ideas and products which can reduce carbon emissions by the use of computers and telecommunications (ICT).

The generally accepted figure is that ICT contributes 2% of carbon emissions, but could achieve a 15% reduction in overall emissions by 2020. The ANU will be teaching Masters students how to do this from July 2009, in the course COMP7310: Green ICT Strategies Students can do the course from anywhere in the world, via the web.

About Innovation ACT:

All University staff and students are invited to attend seminars on commercialisation and business planning given by invited speakers from the business community in the ACT and NSW.

We encourage all everyone to come along to learn about all aspects of business and commercialisation.

Participating teams are required to register and are assigned a business leader as a mentor. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged and a team formation evening - in the form of a speed dating evening will be held. So come along and find a team to offer your services to.

Each team will produce an executive summary and a professional business plan under the guidance of their mentor and will submit this to be judged. Two opportunities are also given to present their ideas in the form of an elevator pitch, where the teams are given a few minutes to pitch their idea, and a longer presentation prior to awards being given.

All aspects of commericalisation and business planning will be covered during the program. Seminars will be provided on the following topics:
- Introduction to Innovation
- Intellectual Property
- Product Definition
- Market Sizing and Validation
- Taxation and Company Structures
- Financials and Resources
- Environmental and Social Sustainability
- Business plan writing and presentation

Additionally, web based resources will be provided throughout the program.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Innovation ACT Launch

Changing States - President Barack Obama, Single retired American cotton flag woven through nylon mesh 4ft x 6ft by Benjamin ShineGreetings from the launch of Innovation ACT at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research) the Australian National University in Canberra. This is a program to teach innovation to students at the ANU and University of Canberra. The guest speaker was fabric artist Benjamin Shine, with hsi work including a portrait of President Barack Obama. As well as art, Benjamin does commercial design work, including the logo for the Aphasia Alliance (a topic I was lecturing on today). After a series of seminars on how to turn an invention into a product or service, the students (and staff) from teams, prepare proposals and compete. The winners receive practical experience to implement their idea. One innovation with the program is that it is no confined to profit making patented idea, but can include non-profit open source community benefit idea. John H. Howard, author of Innovation, Creativity and Leadership talked at the launch. The program events are open and a entertaining as well as informative. As part of the program I will be speaking at the "Environmental and Social Sustainable Seminar",6pm, ednesday, 3rd June. My postings from last year's program are also available.
30th AprilIntroduction to Innovation SeminarBenjamin Shine
6th MayIntellectual Property for Innovation SeminarRobert Miller (Spruson and Ferguson)
13th MayTeam Formation Evening
20th MayProduct and Market Definition SeminarJohn Hemphill (Pyksis)
27th MayFinancial and Resource Management SeminarNick McNaughton (Blue Cove Ventures)
3rd JuneEnvironmental and Social Sustainable SeminarANU Green
10th JuneBusiness Plan Writing and Presentation SeminarLachlan James
1st JulyElevator Pitch Competition
Monday 20th JulyBusiness Plans and Presentations Due
22nd JulyBusiness Plan Presentations
29th JulyGala Awards Dinner
From: Schedule, InnovationACT, 2009

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Innovation Competition in Canberra

InnovationANU, a business and commercialisation program, will be run again at the Australian National University, with the University of Canberra. Staff and students from the universities are coached on how to turn their bright ideas into products and services. They then form teams and compete in an elevator pitch competition. The winners receive financial and other support for developing their ideas. Participation in the event is free. The 2009 program starts with an Innovation ACT Launch, 6 pm Thursday 30th April, at the Finkel Lecture Theatre, Building 54, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU. RSVP to InnovationACT(a)

All University staff and students are invited to attend seminars on commercialisation and business planning given by invited speakers from the business community in the ACT and NSW.

We encourage all everyone to come along to learn about all aspects of business and commercialisation.

Participating teams are required to register and are assigned a business leader as a mentor. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged and a team formation evening - in the form of a speed dating evening will be held. So come along and find a team to offer your services to.

Each team will produce an executive summary and a professional business plan under the guidance of their mentor and will submit this to be judged. Two opportunities are also given to present their ideas in the form of an elevator pitch, where the teams are given a few minutes to pitch their idea, and a longer presentation prior to awards being given.

All aspects of commericalisation and business planning will be covered during the program. Seminars will be provided on the following topics:
- Introduction to Innovation
- Intellectual Property
- Product Definition
- Market Sizing and Validation
- Taxation and Company Structures
- Financials and Resources
- Environmental and Social Sustainability
- Business plan writing and presentation

Additionally, web based resources will be provided throughout the program.

From: About InnovationACT, ANU, 2009

30th AprilIntroduction to Innovation SeminarBenjamin Shine
6th MayIntellectual Property for Innovation SeminarRobert Miller (Spruson and Fergusson)
13th MayTeam Formation Evening
20th MayProduct and Market Definition SeminarJohn Hemphill (Pyksis)
27th MayFinancial and Resource Management SeminarNick McNaughton (Blue Cove Ventures)
3rd JuneEnvironmental and Social Sustainable SeminarANU Green
10th JuneBusiness Plan Writing and Presentation SeminarLachlan James
1st JulyElevator Pitch Competition
20th JulyBusiness Plans and Presentations Due
22nd JulyBusiness Plan Presentations
29th JulyGala Awards Dinner

From: Schedule InnovationACT, ANU, 2009

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intellectual property webinar

The Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre hosted a web based online seminar (webinar) on "IP Growth Cycle of Early-Stage Companies", 11 November 2008. This was free and a useful event, although it did not cover open access/open source. I wanted to ask about that but the event suddenly ended twenty mintues early, before I had a chance to. The "webniar" format pfoved useful, apart from the abrupt end. But then an IP seminar whi9ch doesn't address open source in the first 30 mintues is of little value.

After I signed up for the event online I was sent a message with a web address for joining. I tried clicking on the link straight away but just got a response saying the site would not be available until the scheduled time. This was frustrating as when it can to that time I found I had to download and install software. This took several minutes so I was late joining the event.

The event used Citrix 's GoToMeeting. This was used with audio broadcast to the participants and synchronised Powerpoint type slides. There was no video used. One problem was that there was no image of the speaker and so less sense of who they were (a still image would have done). Also there was only one voice talking all the time, which gets tedious. It would help to have a different person talking.

The system provides a text back channel for asking questions and for when there are problems with the audio. This arrangement works well, as you do not need to interrupt the speaker. Also there is a "raise your hand" function to get attention.

The audio worked well (I was using the ANU's high bandwidth Internet link so problems would not be expected). It is also possible to use a telephone conference with the Internet used for the slides and text chat.

Other Internet based products provide similar facilities. Also one integrated e-meeting product may not be the best approach. With the synchronised slides you can't go back a slide or skip forward to see how may are left: you are stuck looking at the slide the presenter wants you to. Also you can't read or search the actual text of the presentation (particularly important if you a re blind), as all you have is an image of the slide, not the slide itself. So it might be more useful to simply provide the slides and have people follow along themselves. A separate text chat and audio system can be used, perhaps with the text saying what slide the speaker is talking about occasionally.

Using multiple tools would also make the abrupt end which occurred with the IP webinar less likely. What happened with the Citrix software was suddenly I had a message saying the event had ended and then the application disappeared, along with the slides and text chat. This would be useful for those wanting tight control for a presentation. But for most events it would better iof the slides did not suddenly disappear and the text chat could keep going after the audio ended.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Intellectual property online seminar

The Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre is hosting a web based online seminar (webinar) on "IP Growth Cycle of Early-Stage Companies", 11 November 9:30am Canberra time. Registration online is free:
Martin Suter, Vice-President of Business Development, BelAir NetworksLicensing of intellectual property (IP) can allow early-stage companies to acquire the rights to commercialise new technology, accelerating their R&D program and their go-to-market plans. In addition, many companies view licensing of their technology as a viable path to market. In each of these cases, the decisions and structuring of license agreements can greatly impact a company’s financing options, its organisational structure, as well as its exit strategy.

This webinar will discuss the stages that companies often go through, from the decision to acquire seed IP, to the decision to commercialise IP through licensing, to what can happen during M&A discussions. Case studies from several companies that highlight the issues and lessons learned will be used to make this webinar a practical, real-world look at the issues as well as the opportunity to monetise technology through licensing.


Martin Suter - Vice-President of Business Development, BelAir Networks.

Bringing to BelAir Networks an impressive track record of wins over a 20 year span, Martin is a results-driven, intellectually agile, strategic business development and technology licensing executive with extensive experience in developing corporate strategy, building asymmetrical strategic relationships and negotiating complex transactions. Previously, Martin was the CEO at Cohda Wireless, where he raised the company’s profile and negotiated a licensing deal with a Fortune 100 vendor in its core franchise.

Prior to Cohda, Martin was Vice President, Business Development at MeshNetworks, Inc., a classic tech transfer/disruptive technology success story that achieved a major liquidity event for its investors in Q4/2004 with its acquisition by Motorola.

Prior to MeshNetworks, Martin was responsible for building several high profile alliances with and for leading technology companies, including Fujitsu, Microsoft, Netscape, SUN Microsystems, and Teradata.

Additionally, Martin has successfully negotiated technology transfer, distribution and/or licensing deals with companies like 3Com, BioChem Pharma, Dow Chemical, Exodus, Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Netscape and SUN.

Martin’s blog can be found at ...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Technology Transfer Seminar in Canberra

Tom Hammond and Victor Pantano from the Office of Commercialisation will talk on Technology Transfer at the ANU, Canberra, 2pm 28 October 2008:
Technology Transfer at the ANU
Tom Hammond and Victor Pantano (The Office of Commercialisation, ANU)

DATE: 2008-10-28
TIME: 14:00:00 - 15:00:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU

The Office of Commercialisation provides a number of technology transfer related services to the ANU, with the objective of finding paths beyond traditional sponsored research funding to support ANU research with commercial potential.

Members of the Office of Commercialisation Physical Sciences Team will present a short seminar on the support the Office provides in protecting and managing IP to facilitate research and commercial objectives; identifying and evaluating the commercial potential of research outcomes; and travelling the most appropriate path from research to technology transfer in the physical sciences. ...

From: Technology Transfer at the ANU, CECS, ANU

Dr Victor Pantano (Physical Science)

Before moving to the Office of Commercialisation in March 2006, Victor was based at the University of Warwick where he lead a number of projects associated with technology transfer into the UK automotive industry. Based at the International Automotive Research Centre in the West Midlands, his role involved facilitating the development of industry-based relationships with Centre researchers as an outlet for technology transfer. This included the formation of SME-based technology transfer clusters as a means to enhancing regional development. Prior to this, he completed his industry-based PhD with Ford Motor Company, based in various locations including Australia, India and the US. Victor holds a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) and a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) from the ANU.


Dr Tom Hammond (Physical Science)

Tom comes to the Office of Commercialisation with academic experience in Zoology and Science Communication, and a career in the craft brewing sector.

After completing a BSc (Hons) in Zoology in 1998, Tom spent some time working in wildlife conservation in Western Australia, before completing a PhD in 2002, focusing on the acoustic behaviour of bushcrickets. An interest turned into a career in the craft brewing industry for several years, before Tom came to the ANU to study a Masters in Science Communication at the ANU. Tom brings a sound technical background, an appreciation of the processes of science communication, and an understanding of the requirements of industry to his role in the Office of Commercialisation. ...

From: Office Team, Office of Commercialisation, The Australian National University

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Review of Australia's National Innovation System

Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, has released the Green Paper report of the expert panel on Australia's national innovation system. The Minister has announced the Government will release a white paper in response by the end of 2008. Unfortunately the report has been provided in a difficult to read format and so is of little value. This appears to have been done deliberately to impede analysis of the report.

Unfortunately the report of the Review has the clumsy title of "venturousaustralia - building strength in innovation". The contraction "venturousaustralia" looks like a misprint and is hard to make sense of ("VenturousAustralia" or "Venturous Australia" would have been better). This perhaps indicates the major problem with the Australian approach to innovation: trying to be too cleaver for our own good.

The panel have provided

  1. Report overview and recommendations (1MB of PDF)
  2. Full report: venturousaustralia - building strength in innovation (3MB of PDF)

There are also assorted media releases and transcripts from the launch. Unfortunately little thought seems to have gone into making this information available in an easy to understand and systematic way. This also seems to be a common proble with the Australia approach to innovation: assuming that a clear idea is self explanatory.

There is no list of the reports main recommendations provided on the web page and the detailed report is offered to the reader, followed by the smaller, but still too large overview. This material is then followed by a list of annexes, but the reader is given little idea what is in the annexes, as they are labeled 4 to 12 (what happened to 1 to 3?).

It is a shame that a lot of work by some very cleaver people has been largely wasted. Normally I would extract the summary of recommendations from the PDF of the report and convert them to text format for easy access. However in this case this is not possible as the security features of the PDF document have been set to block copying of text from the document. This is occasionally done with company documents to impede those attempting to misuse intellectual property. However, it is difficult to see why this was done in a government report, other than an attempt to make it difficult to disseminate the information and carry out a detailed analysis of the report. It would appear that the report's authors do not want the report looked at in detail.

I suggest that the Minister reject the report and begin the process again using a new panel. There is nothing to be learnt from this report, apart from how not to do a report on innovation.

The ACT Government also commissioned a Report on the ACT Innovation System, which is available online.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Innovation and Technology Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released "8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update" 29/07/2008. This includes stats on ICT in Australia, R&D and "innovation" They also have an ICT Theme page.
  1. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Statistics
  2. Research & Experimental Development (R&D) Statistics
  3. Innovation Statistics
  4. Business Characteristics Statistics
  5. Other

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Innovation ANU Final Round of Judging

The ANU has been running "Innovation ANU": an education program and competition to encourage researchers to commercialize their work. Six teams will present business plans a panel of judges for the finals this week. Interestingly some of the teams chose to develop not-for-profit projects, by adapting the business skills being shown. The projects range from very technical ones (fleets of miniature robot submarines) to ones involving the arts (encouraging music). The program started out with seminars on business issues and intellectual property and then moved on to fun presentations from the teams.
This Wednesday evening 23rd July will be the final evening of
InnovationANU 2008. After four months of hard work six teams will be
presenting their final business plans to our panel of judges and you are
all welcome to attend to see the impressive ideas that have emerged.

Date: Wednesday, 23rd July
Time: 5.30pm for 6.00pm start
Venue: Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research

Each team has been allocated ten minutes for their presentation, with
5-10 minutes for discussion with the judging panel following. For full
details about the talks and timing please see the attached agenda.

The InnovationANU program this year has been a success thanks to all of
you who got involved attending lectures, preparing and delivering
elevator pitches and finally preparing and submitting business plans.
From all the organisers we would like to extend our thanks to the over
100 participants who have been involved in InnovationANU in some
capacity this year. We hope this is the first of many years for this
program and we wish you all the very best in your future entrepreneurial
endeavours and hope to see you next year for InnovationANU 2009.

Kindest Regards,

The InnovationANU Organisers

Business Development Program
Team Presentations
Wednesday, 23rd July 2008
Finkel Lecture Theatre
John Curtin School of Medical Research


5.30pm Drinks
6.00pm Welcome and Opening Remarks
6.15pm Presentation 1: One Corp - Generation Y Receipt Storage
6.40pm Presentation 2: Fault Technology - Blind minerals exploration
7.05pm Presentation 3: Photos Inkorporated - Online community photo-sharing and printing
7.30pm Break
7.45pm Presentation 4: Harp Centre Australia - A Centre for Harp in the Nation’s Capital
8.10pm Presentation 5: Cardishield - Cardiac protection
8.35pm Presentation 6: Serafina - Swarms of submarines
9.00pm Closing Remarks

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Neither Microsoft nor Netscape started the web revolution

NCSA Mosaic logo"Bill Gates: How A Geek Changed The World" a BBS interview with Bill Gates was broadcast by SBS 8 July 2008 (online video from SBS). This was a more than a puff piece with some criticisms of Gates included.

One point made was that Microsoft was late embracing the Internet. Microsoft had to scramble to create a web browser in response to Netscape. But not mentioned was that it was the Mosaic web browser developed by the non profit National Center for Supercomputing Applications which popularized the web. Both Netscape and Microsoft then licensed Mosaic to make their Navigator and Internet Explorer browsers. Early versions were little different from Mosaic or from each other. And I must be about the last person in the world who paid for a copy of Netscape Navigator, shortly before they decided to give it away. ;-)
Program Synopsis
TV Show Name:
Broadcast Date: Tuesday 8 July 2008
Channel: Free to Air / SBS
Broadcast Time: 8.30 pm
Classifications: Other, (CC)
Timeslot Duration: 60 mins
Official title / weblink if available: CUTTING EDGE: BILL GATES

How A Geek Changed The World - After two years of negotiations, BBC filmmaker Fiona Bruce pulled off a rare coup: a candid full-length interview with Bill Gates. For many years the richest man in the world and the founding genius of Microsoft is set to step down from his company and get on with the business of giving away £12 billion through the charitable foundation he runs with his wife Melinda and father William Gates Sr. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people in the US and around the globe, with a focus on tackling health problems in the developing world and improving access to drugs. Bruce's interview and her meetings with Gates' friends and rivals uncover a sometimes irascible character, who has long prided himself on corporate aggression and is only recently said to have begun mellowing. (From the UK, in English)


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Monday, June 30, 2008

Canberra Open Coffee

Canberra Open Coffee is an informal meeting for designers, bloggers, developers, investors and anyone interested in start-ups to get to know each other over coffee. First Saturday on the Month. Venue: Essen, Garema Place, Civic Saturday 5 July from 3pm Contact: Rohan Mitchell ... Email: rohan(a)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Innovation ANU Elevator Pitches

Greetings from the Innovation ANU Elevator Pitches in Canberra. This is the culmination of a series of evening courses to educate university people in how to turn an idea into a product. Earlier each person with an idea presented and then formed teams. About a dozen of those teams now get two minutes each to present their idea. Two judges, from the venture capital industry, select the best for an award and then for development.

The presentations are entertaining. It is remarkably difficult present an idea in two minutes. One part I found surprising was that few of the teams used props for presentations. Most presentations were someone standing at a lectern talking. This makes me appreciate the quality of the presentations which the ANU software engineering present.

Topics of the presentations were aids for home finance, puzzles, teaching English, B2C, photo printing, fast food catering. At that point the next presenter, Felix Schill woke me up by pulling a miniature robot submarine out of their backpack and said these would cost $15,000 each. This is the Serafina, developed by ANU (sort of an underwater Aerosonde).

The next presentation was the EtherDVB", video over Ethernet product. That was followed by the BushLAN system for long distance broadband (might be useful for the last few percent of the population with the government's broadband system). This was followed by a proposal for electronic medical records. Then gold prospecting.

At that point the presentations changed outlook to one with a "non-profit" proposal. The first was about reconciliation and learning about indigenous culture.

When then flipped back to a proposal for keeping track of receipts. There was then a second food proposal. One of the few medical proposals was for a drug to reduce deaths due to heart disease. We then had a proposal for bio-gas for developing nations using cow manure for cooking. There was then a second proposal for e-health records. A less usual proposal was for a low cost harp to be sold online (bit like the OLPC, but for music). The last presentation was for asthma treatment: a counter for dispensers and a test kit to check the medicine is present. It was claimed that these are already protected by patents.

The one hour of elevation pitches went very quickly. The judges are now considering their decision.
... first round of judging and awards and will require teams to submit a two page executive summary and a 2 minute (maximum) elevator pitch. Details about both of these submissions are outlined below. Executive Summary submission will be by midday, Tuesday 22nd April (the day before the judging evening), to give the judges plenty of time to read the executive summaries. The elevator pitch will be conducted on the evening and the order of the teams will be selected randomly on the evening. Both the page and time limits are fixed and teams will be asked to strictly abide by these.

The elevator pitch is a two minute pitch to sell your vision/idea of a product, service or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride. The elevator pitch should be delivered without visual aids (pictures, powerpoint presentations, etc.) and within the required time limit, after which the team will be asked to stop immediately.

Investors will often judge the quality of an idea and team on the basis of the quality of a short pitch such as this as any weaknesses are often easily exposed in this process. An effective elevator pitch is designed to give the audience just enough information that they will have a sense of what you are talking about and want to know more. Second, and just as importantly, it is designed to not give the audience so much information so that they feel overwhelmed (and tune you out). There is an overview of the requirements for the elevator pitch on the resources page of the Innovation ANU Website ( There is also a good overview of an elevator pitch at

An executive summary is similar to a written version of the elevator pitch and outlines many of the relevant elements of your concept and idea and why it will be a success. This should be a two page document without images or other visual elements. There is an overview of the requirements for the executive summary on the resources page of the Innovation ANU Website ( The executive summary should be submitted in word (.doc) or pdf formats by midday, Tuesday 22nd April. Late submission will rule participants ineligible for this award.

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