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CRC conference round up: Australia 2040

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CRC conference round up: Australia 2040

Earlier this week (May 25th /26th 2015)  I attended the CRC Conference: Australia 2040 – celebrating the CRC’s 25 years in existence more one of curiosity than high expectation.

What a surprise! The scope and depth of the work going on in Australia in the CRC network is inspiring.

Given the absence of genuine strategic conversation in Australia, this was at least an attempt! Conferences are typically not high on my list of learning events, typically they are highly structured events with a range of talking heads saying very little! I guess I am a little cynical!

I have to say while the format was typical, each of the speakers had something serious and substantial to say – all – from the “young researchers” who presented on the first evening thru to the award presentations at the dinner on Tuesday evening were a revelation. (Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the workshops on Wednesday) The event as far as I attended was a great experience.

As a relatively independent observer of the CRC system I had no idea of the range of work and the achievements of the CRC network – possible I am not looking in the right places. When I heard the speakers in the last session on Tuesday talking about “making it” in Australia –I was inspired at some of the amazing businesses in Australia, notably in the Advanced Manufacturing area which are almost invisible to the naked eye!

In terms of the 2040 Australia it appears manufacturing has a big future – not that are not some big challenges – and they have always been there!

A major challenge in my view is the Australian mind set!! The media, the politicians, the Business leaders are overwhelmed by a form of “short termism” which strangles and asphyxiates any hope of having a really healthy conversation about the future – we are preoccupied with Debts Deficits and a range of wealth redistribution conversations which in the end will be meaningless unless we unleash the conversation about Australia as one of the most prosperous Countries in the world of the 21st Century.

I may have missed something but the Growth Center’s, which are a part of a vision for the future of Australia.  These passed through the media and the political conversation like credits in an epic about the Debt, the Deficit, Wealth Redistribution and Gay marriage

Back to the Conference – just a few personal discoveries, which I found, thought provoking and inspiring.

  • In 2016 in the mines in WA Australia will the home of the world’s largest robot.
  • It takes up to 15 years for a young man with mental health issues to ask for help. (And there is now a diagnostic application, which may accelerate this time frame!)
  • There is such a thing as the Capital Markets CRC and 3 out of the 5 core applications in the global financial markets have their origin in Australia
  • It is a myth that manufacturing in Australia is dead!
  • There are some Australian small businesses completing on he world stage with leading edge technology – more than I could name?
  • Australia leads the world in ‘body amour’ technology
  • The conversation around Northern Australia it appears is gaining a little more traction in this generation – given the first report was in the late 1930’s – its not before time!
  • This list is just the start.

I am confident after some careful thought and reflection a myriad of other ideas and stories will emerge.

While for me the event was an outstanding success – for the organizers I am disappointed there were not a thousand people present to hear these stories and see these models – for as it is often said “the future is around you – you just have to look carefully!”

My thanks go to the CRC organizing committee for a great event and for allowing a curious onlooker to attend. It certainly was a great opportunity for me to glimpse the world in which my grandchildren will grow up.

Ben Kehoe

Grand Father, Management Consultant, Business Adviser and thinker about the Future of Business in Australia.

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