PM Turnbull – Innovation’s Messiah or Just a Very Naughty Boy?

This may be the least wise, least prudent post I have ever made. I’ve typed, and deleted, and re-typed that headline I don’t know how many times, and reminded myself of my determination to stay away from big-P-Politics and my even more fervent desire for this blog to avoid the question of Faith, but I keep coming back to it. So I’m just going with it, and I’ll trust that you’ll stay with me through the thought whether you agree with or respect it, or not.

Because, admittedly unusually, I’m not trying to be smart with the header. I *was*, certainly, when I first thought of it, but it actually says everything I want to caution against in one, highly unoriginal, bordering-on-inaccurate line IF, and again I stress IF, you’ve seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian. If not, oops (and, seriously, see the whole thing, not just the YouTube clips: it’s a whole-thing-thing). Continue reading

Expanding the Funding Pool for Innovation – CSEF is Not Just for Start-ups

NB This post is an expanded version of that which was posted at LinkedIn today. Apologies to those who didn’t want to double-dip, however for better or worse I try to limit my personal opinions on the merits of policy content to this blog.

There’s just one week left in the second consultation process on the introduction of a legislative framework to facilitate crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) and, regardless of what you may think about the proposed model, you have to admire the earnest efficiency with which the Government continues to progress this issue.

Of course, not everyone is happy with progress. Several senior figures within the start-up community bemoaned the release of another Discussion Paper in conversations with the Australian Financial Review when the latest paper was released.  One expressed surprise that Treasury would need to still explore how to resolve a specific barrier created from years of the Corporations Law, given as “they’ve had so long.” Bless.  Continue reading

Stars or Strategy? – Why the Innovation Industries need AVCAL to Stay Focussed

AVCAL, the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited, has announced a pretty interesting line-up for its 2015 conference in Melbourne this September. Interesting, in part because the theme they appear to be weaving through all their activities – Building Better Business – doesn’t really seem to be reflected in the choice of speakers; in part, because the star speakers have some serious wattage; and in part in the sectors chosen as the focus for Spotlight sessions.  Continue reading

So What Will This Crowd-Sourced Equity Thing Look Like?

I spent a lot of space in my last post essentially justifying my excitement at the release of a Discussion Paper on a potential regulatory framework for crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) in Australia, in the name of giving it a context. So much so that I didn’t actually get into the content of it at all. For some people, that is actually not an impediment to enthusiastic support or advocacy of a policy – for some, it’s a distinct advantage – but as one who gets all soapbox-y at lazy policy development, I feel I should at least make a token effort.  Continue reading

Access to Funds from the Crowd a Step Closer for Innovators

Public consultation recently closed – yes, I know, my timing isn’t great, but I was off-line for three months with a gang of nasty viruses, so sue me – on a potential regulatory framework for crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) in Australia. CSEF is an emerging form of funding that enables someone to raise funds online from a large number of small investors in return for an equally small equity stake in the project or company for which funds are being raised. Worldwide, crowd-sourced funding (without the equity) has been used to fund everything from scientific experiments to feature films and medical treatment, but it is its potential to fundamentally transform the ability of small and start-up businesses that has innovation junkies like me all a-quiver.  Continue reading

Collaboration is a Two-Way Street

I don’t like it when I disagree with someone I respect, particularly someone as accomplished as Professor John Bell FTSE. So when I felt my need to grab a soapbox after the launch at National Press Club of the report he co-authored under ACOLA’s auspices, The Role of Science, Research and Technology in Lifting Australian Productivity, I chose to take a good look at what I was really soapbox-y about. Good thing too, as it turns out.

Continue reading

Why Outcomes without Uptake Isn’t Enough – Return on Australia’s Investment in Innovation Part III

In the last two posts I’ve been unravelling why, despite Australia’s consistent internationally comparable levels of investment in innovation, we are equally consistently slammed for our low levels of innovator-industry collaborations.  So far, we’ve noted that government invests funding to incentivize and stimulate innovation activities because, like any investor, it believes not only that it will receive a return on that investment, but that this return will be at least as valuable as any other use to which it could put that funding.  We’ve also established that the return governments are seeking on their investment is primarily about the economy-wide benefits that come from innovation spilling over and not simply benefitting the people who initially took the risk developing and implementing it. And that the fact these spillover benefits are generally several times the size of the innovators’ benefit is why many firms under-invest in innovation, which is why governments step in to stimulate investment. Which at first glance would seem to complete the circle nicely without having to even use the word ‘collaborate’. So where is the problem?  Continue reading

What’s the RoI for Public Sector Investors? – Return on Australia’s Investment in Innovation Part II

In my last post, we established that the reason the public sector invests in innovation is because they believe in the return on that investment, often referred to as RoI, will be as least as valuable as putting those resources towards hospital beds, highways, and high schools. So what is this expected return and what does it have to do with the Australian research community’s apparent inability to collaborate more with industry?  Continue reading

Reflections on the Budget – 2014

In every battle, there comes a point when the grinding of teeth, stomping of feet and name calling – the fun bit – has to end.  Reaching that point doesn’t mean They’re right, but rather that one is getting down to the business of the battle, channelling one’s efforts into something that will make a difference.  That first phase is just as important as the second – it’s where you build up the outrage, the energy-in-motion of emotion, to burn as fuel for those efforts. Linger there too long, however, and you’re likely to find yourself still holding the grenade when it goes off.  Continue reading

So When in Doubt, Go the Gratuitous Pole Dancer shot??

The Oz's caption?: Federal research policy is poles apart from what's needed

The Oz’s caption?: “Federal research policy is poles apart from what’s needed” – see the attached pdf for the “gymnastic” encore

Pole Dancer version

UPDATE:  12:35pm 8 AUGUST 2013  in the processing of posting this story, it has become apparent that The Australian has decided there was a better photo option to accompany their story: check out the thumbnail at via the Higher Education home page  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education. While pleased with this outcome, I’m still including the original photo and caption included, if only to prove I’m not making this up…..

Maybe it’s because it’s National Science Week, when we celebrate the importance of science and the multitude of fields in which our relatively small country has consistently produced some of the world’s best and brightest. Continue reading