Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Canberra Innovation Network

Greetings from the ACS Canberra Conference, where Sarah Pearson, Interim CEO is talking about the "CBR
Innovation Network". Sarah had much news about the development of new high technology products in Canberra.One example was "DataPod Modular Data Centres" and another was IntelleDox. Sarah mentioned numerous other successful Canberra based high tech products  which most of the audience had never heard of. One way to promote Canberra as a centre for such innovation could be simply to let people know what has already happened. One way would be to have better websites with details of these, the problem being that companies are reluctant to mention they are in Canberra and the ACT Government has tended to build websites which are not well indexed by search engines. At the moment I am mentoring a team of ANU students competing the the "Innovation ACT Competition" sponsored by the ACT Government. My suggestion for promoting Canberra was in: "Building Arcadia: Emulating Cambridge's High Technology Success". Recently in Vancouver for ICCSE 2014 I dropped in on Philippe Kruchten at UBC Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is involved with the "New Venture Design" course (APSC 486), where engineering and business students learn to produce a business plan for a product. The students are encouraged to enter a innovation competition or program as part of the course.

Sarah said CBR  Innovation Network would have a simple one page website and then look at how to build a system for matching up people. My suggestion would be to use a free open source text web software, so that the information is well indexed (it does not have to look good). How to link up people is not a solved problem and the organisation should not waste too much time on complex software (SpaceCubed in Perth use Yammer, as do CSIRO).

I asked Sarah if "Canberra" was a good brand for selling high tech products in Australia, particularly to the Federal Government which prefers to buy imported products.  She replied that CBR Innovation Network was building on the ACT Government's "CBR" brand (which I had never heard of). It may be that the Canberra Innovation Network needs to have two promotional strategies: one for within Australia which does not mention Canberra, and one for international use which does.

The use of the abbreviation "CBR" in marketing Canberra  makes no sense for high technology products and would be of very limited use even for tourism. The Wikipedia lists dozens of meaning of CBR, including Chemical Biological and Radiation weapons. One near the bottom of the list is the international airport code for Canberra International Airport. That is not going to be much use to an international tourist, as there are no scheduled international flights to Canberra. In contrast I find that people have heard of "Canberra" as being a government city, even if they think Sydney is the capital of Australia.
  • The network will deliver services, programs and support to a wide cross section of growth oriented companies and entrepreneurs;
  • The network will have a physical location and will also have a charter of outreach that establishes multiple delivery points or partner delivery arrangements;
  • It will be managed by the stakeholders under a governance structure shaped and agreed by the stakeholders. Potential stakeholders include the ANU, CSIRO, NICTA and the University of Canberra and other partners who want to join the network. The ACT Government will also have representation on the management body for the network;
  • The network will be structured so that smaller players are able to have a role in the direction of the network;
  • The ACT Government will contract the network to provide a range of services to potential high growth businesses, including mentoring, access to capital, skills development, managerial skills and links to international supply chains amongst many;
  • The network will provide a 'triage model' for all entities that contact it, but with services that engage quite deliberately and effectively with potential high growth businesses; and
  • The services of the network will be made available to all potential high growth companies, not just companies spun out of research institutions or ICT companies.
From: CBR Innovation Network: promoting innovative businesses, 09/04/2014

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