Innovation is surprisingly Spiky!

The Innovation SpikeAs the saying goes…a picture is worth a thousand words.

Probably more to the point (excuse the pun) here it’s worth $Trillions!

Study it for a while.

Look at the spikes – IT Employment, Venture Capital,  Patents, Look at the links.

You can’t help but feel impressed. WOW!

However If you live downunder like I do, then you will feel a tad deflated. Where the hell’s our spike? Nothing, not even a little one. Not even a bud of one.

Back in 2001 I opened a multi million dollar digital production business in Bangalore. Even then, some 8 years ago  the place was zooming (Seth Godin expression) Now some years later Bangalore has a bud.

We don’t!

Now that really pisses me off as for the past decade Australia has been shelling out $Billions in R&D initiatives and innovation grants. So where’s our Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Craigslist, Google, Apple or the next big thing?

Let’s flip back a few years. When Australia was considered somewhat a leader in innovation from the Boomerang to the Victa Lawn Mower. We also gave the world other gems like the Hills Rotary Clothes Hoist and the Bionic Ear. But of more recent times it seems Australian innovation has stalled. Yes we have the CSIRO, our Innovation and Research Labs, the plethora of Government Innovation Departments, and of course, our Universities, colleges, schools, consultants and ASSOB.

Thank god we still have the ABC New Inventors show.

C’mon Australia despite our inquisitive culture we’ve become a risk adverse nation. How the hell is it be possible that an Ethiopian women living in desperate poverty can have freedom to access risk capital to start a business with no strings attached whereas smart young Aussie entrepreneurs with good business sense a great idea and passion are made to jump through hoops that would make top gymnasts do a back flip!

Some would say we’ve  lost the plot. Perhaps it’s time to do something about it. For the sake of my grandchildren I have and will continue to collaborate with others who are on a similar crusade.

Visit Start or stay tuned for more as this Innovation movement is gathering momentum and will soon reach critical mass.




5 Responses to Innovation is surprisingly Spiky!

  1. Neil Luu says:

    Hi Tony!

    Your words echo deeply indeed 🙂 the true innovators and inventive minds have sadly been suppressed in today’s times. The idea of change is, needless to say Daunting to comprehend for most, especially with the sad fact that the a high number of leadership roles are taken by the “Cardigan Parade” as quoted by Scott Langford (Habitat for Humanity). Very sadly, true innovation becomes a test of Finance and Determination, rather than of Necessity and Social Responsibility.

    Speaking from a Construction and Built Environment angle – Australia is the home to unmeasurable innovation! with our Designers, Consultants and Engineers at the forefront of architecture and construction- Worldwide! a few of these people are my dear friends! creating world leading ideas & monuments around the world…. but Australia… there is but a handful of examples, especially in the last 15-20 years 😦

    In my short time, in the businesses we have done, we have more than often been referred to as Insane, Delusional, or just Nutters….hehe …. rather than to be acknowledged as Innovative or forward thinking 🙂

    i have lived nearly all of my life on the edge and will continue to do so 🙂 however with the unity of Leaders like yourself, Tony, Kevin Doodney and many who think like us in the shadows, plus the 2009 financial and social position of our little green and blue planet………. our underground may become the light for the mainstream.

    Viva La Revolution!!…. Bring on the Nutters!


    • ozechad says:

      Neil, As usual you raise very interesting points, especially your comment that true innovation becomes a test of Finance and Determination rather than out of Necessity or Social Responsibility. Readers who know you or your nutter brother Nathan will testify to your own dogged determination to showcase new ways in housing innovation. Through young brilliant people like you the flame of innovation is alive and well. Here’s to the crazy ones – Viva la Revolution indeed!

  2. Darren Harrison says:


    It is vision, passion & relevance that is lacking, not the element of risk that curbs the investment into innovative & sustainable technologies. The money is there – we spend it on racehorses and boats and properties on Hedges Ave. Australians are by nature great risk takers – just ask Tabcorp or the Lotto Commission.

    We need to find a way to unlock the same coffers that are willing to back sporting teams, Indy and The Melbourne Cup. The money comes in from corporates & government because it has the interest of the people, the people are interested because they are engaged and involved.

    We ourselves need to be innovative in the search for funding innovation. We need to take something like New Inventors & add some Big Brother or Biggest Loser to it. We need to get innovation away from being the quirky fill in story on Today Tonight & give it it’s own title. By engaging middle Australia in the ‘drama’ of technological development we can create both understanding & empathy.

    Ramblings of a mad man? Maybe.

    • ozechad says:

      Darren. Thanks for dropping in.
      It’s as if you are writing my thoughts. I’m spooked are you in my head 🙂
      It was about a year or so ago that I conceived the Innovation Cafe idea in response to similar ramblings. What a rippa of an idea using the Big Brother/Biggest Loser metaphor to launch interest in sustainable innovation. Sadly I don’t think the dumb ass TV execs will never buy it but heh… what if we did something bold, something different, something similar online?
      It’s time for a coffee mate. Please keep next Thursday 28th free. I want to introduce you to a fellow mad collaborator (a lady) – check out

  3. uncompromise says:

    Hi Tony,

    I’m not sure that the lack of innovation is the issue – there are many innovators and innovative ideas around – the issue seems to be the commercial success of those innovations.

    Australian innovators, it seems, are generally not particularly savvy when it comes to commercialisation – and demonstrate, on the whole, a deep unwillingness to engage with and pay appropriately those with the expertise to support them.

    It’s not just the ‘e-myth’ mentality of creative thinkers who believe that just because they are good at something that they should create a business out of it (that pathway has been beaten flat by millions of well intentioned but poorly trained and funded business owners).

    What we have seen a lot is the idea – fuelled in no small part by a blend of personal development and ‘wealth creation’ marketeers – that financial success is easy to come by, and that a minimal investment will yield enormous results.

    I’ve been talking about the three levels of business now for some time – Vision, Strategy & Output. Innovators approach marketing companies for output oriented activities (even a marketing strategy is an output associated to an overall business Strategy). They show up with a ‘unique’ product or service and then spend money on branding, PR, web, copywriting, trade shows etc.

    They are often so possessed by their own brilliance – and buoyed up by the emotional support of friends and family – that they forget to ask a bunch of questions related to the marketability of their product/service. They rarely (if ever) open themselves up to the deep analytical criticism that will take their idea (if viable) from the realm of the good idea to the bankable idea.

    And that is an important point – bad ideas should fail, and fail fast … rather than limp along for an hour longer than is useful. No point wasting innovative intelligence on something that is simply not going to work in the time and place it is being proposed.

    I certainly believe it’s possible to be financially successful without investing a lot of money – the right idea at the right time can make anyone wealthy. However, there is an old arabic saying: “Trust in Allah and tie up your camel”. If Australian innovators spent a little more time tying their ideas to the stake of commercial reality, and a little less time ‘imagineering’ we might find a resurgence of globally viable and useful ideas springing forward and resuscitating our flagging economy.

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