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The Innovation Nation – Really!!

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Australian Innovation


“It is most unusual for Australia: the mind of an entrepreneur being applied to a whole-of-government policy agenda. Is it a huge mirage or a turning point?” See more from the original article in the Australian.

 Finally – after much huffing and puffing – an Innovation Policy is born!

It appears to be universally applauded and it is the basis of a more positive approach to business especially start-ups.

Certainly the newspapers and the journalists are pontificating at great length on the merits of the statement and any gaps that might be there.

It has been a refreshing change of tone in the national conversation– discussing topics, which have a basis in positive thinking rather than the negativity we have been dished up over recent months/years. “Debts and deficits” or gossip about political parties playing with themselves is hardly the stuff of hope and aspiration.

So what has changed?

A new leader!

A leader, who has a genuine concept of the role of business, as the major source wealth creation in a prosperous society.

A leader who has actually been in business and been successful!

What else?

As an aside In recent times our political leaders have been political and/ or Union careerists who have little experience, or been tested in a market, or created any real value other than as employees of “institutional” systems. It is a sad indictment on politics, as we know it! The current pool has little experience of it innovation as a tool in the wealth creation process!

 Why is it that Innovation has “captured the imagination” right now?

It just might be that the national psyche is looking for something of substance to believe in?

It might be that the technological change that is occurring around us is making it more obvious and more attuned to it?

It might be that there is a genuine commitment on behalf of the political class to create an Innovative Australia?

It might be, it is another political thought bubble to keep everyone entertained?

Whatever, it is here, now, and it is imperative that we understand what we are talking about.

If we just focus on business there are multiple ways of thinking about Innovation.

  • Work system innovation to make the business more productive.
  • Product Innovation (incremental or new)
  • Business Model Innovation (incremental or new)

OR are we talking about innovations that:

  • Change the world
  • Change Australia
  • Change a business

In Australia the Innovation conversation seems to have been focused to a large extent on “Start Ups” and this is a great outcome.

But for Innovation to have any traction or focus there needs to be a real sense of Vision – now called a “narrative”!

Being an Innovative Nation is a noble thing but it needs more substance.

  • Innovative at what?
  • In what areas/industries?
  • With what purpose?
  • All these questions need to be addressed?

Government has a role in creating a business environment conducive to a robust business culture but in my view it requires a “shift of mind” in Australian business for Innovation to be a platform for the future. The data seems to show we are slipping backward not moving forward. So far the conversation is about what the Government is going to do. Maybe it should be a conversation about what business is currently doing and what they are proposing to do?

It is very difficult to identify genuinely innovative global businesses in Australian business history. There have been many innovations over 200 years but many of the associated businesses have been sold to overseas interests.

There are too many to name here but the market dictates that business moves to those who see the most value. I can only assume we were unable to realize the value of these businesses based here in Australia.

In scanning the web while writing this Blog, I stumbled on a web site about Swedish business –a country of 9.8million people, and discovered the following:

10 World Shaping Swedish Companies











My guess is there is a large % of Australians who would recognise at least half of those Business Brands.

I wonder if any Australian brands would be recognised in Sweden as Australian brands?

In Australia there are businesses shaping the world?

Some of the standouts include:



Macquarie Bank

News Limited

I wonder how long before these are sold to overseas buyers and does it matter?

The Innovation Nation: Is there enough evidence to convict us of building businesses which are Innovative?

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