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Australian Commercialisation

Australian innovation and invention is world class, but it's exploitation is let down by a number of factors:-
  • Lack of management understanding of the commercialisation process.
  • Lack of funding and advisory support to help with innovation development.
  • Risk adverse industry that finds it difficult to accept new innovations.
  • Startups and SME's not willing to partner with each other to create an integrated solution.
The problem we need to fix in Australia is about having faith in our own abilities and to be proud to stand together and work together.
Commercialisation Process: Commercialisation is about the monetisation of IP. Quite simple. The process by which one achieves that however is very complex and unless fully understood is likely to result is excessive amounts of overspend or failure. The ideal pathway is one that is well trodden with all the risks understood. At a personal level and being both a mathematician and a proven successful entrepreneur I developed a model that contains the 6 Dimensions of what I believe to be the critical elements (see below). I then model the new initiative and its commercialisation to determine the likely probability of success. I have been using this model for the past 20 years and it has shown to improve the probability of success by 2 to 3 times. Process and education are both critical to reducing failures - this is one of the Dimensions that I call Discipline.
Funding and Advisory Support: Australia has never been very good at funding initiatives. I know from personal experience that with some of my ventures I have sought funding and it has rarely come from Australia. I had money from the UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Israel and the USA but not much from Australia. Government support in this area in Australia has been good and as long as it is linked to a policy on Job growth and Industry development it meets the needs of both Government and Tax Payers. Governments should not waste money on grants that don't create a return to the Tax Payers. The taxpayers are the shareholders of the country and they should be treated as such. Grants that create employment or grow an industry provide value to those shareholders. This is leverage and as long as a mechanism exists to review in an expert manner the grant applicants to assess their likely impact on job growth or industry development then it becomes a well-focused policy.
Risk Adverse Industry: Even a good technology can't always get going due to industry (buyers) being risk adverse. It is so much simpler to maintain the status quo than be innovative. Being innovative requires a company to be agile and predicative regarding trends and market changes. So companies tend not to embrace changes and try and stick as long as possible with an existing business model or out-of-date technology. When disruptions occur they try and fend off with a shield (regulations) instead of attacking with the sword of Innovation.
The 6 Dimensions are Technology, Demand, Distribution, Organisation, Funding and Discipline. Disruptions occur in all of those dimensions that create both risks and opportunities for industry. When disruptions occur in more than one or multiple times it can easily create an extinction event for a company or an industry. In the case of the Australian mining industry that had seen many years of growth, the disruptions came through Demand when the GFC and the China economy slowed. Innovation can compensate through changes to the business model, new technology or how we work with China. It also created an opportunity (from the government perspective) to compensate through innovation in the Agriculture sector where demand in China is going to occur. The ability of industry to be agile and innovative has never before been quite so critical as it is today.
Partnering. Australian companies particularly in the overseas market are more likely to compete with each other than they are to work together. When I lived in the USA I was very close to the Water Industry and I saw many delegations coming from Australia, Israel, Singapore and the Netherlands. Although Australia has the best technology and the best experiences it just didn’t unite as a single force. The result was that many US Utilities and Water Management companies considered Israel or Singapore to be the leaders and not Australia. The only area where Australia excelled was in water policy. As a nation we must learn to work more together and create integrated solutions instead of just bits a pieces. This is a project management and cultural issue but can be solved through leadership and appropriate systems integration. It again demonstrates the need for agility in business processes and a more collaborative approach to business.
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