Australia has a strong reputation for innovation. It’s the country that brought to the world the first Flying Doctors Service, the pacemaker, Cochlear implants and WiFi technology.
As Australia’s National Broadband Network gains momentum it will provide an important platform for a new generation of innovators to develop services and applications that solve real problems and drive benefits for the Australian economy.
It was this reputation for innovation and the significant investment in broadband infrastructure that attracted the ng Connect programme to Australian shores and why it was enthusiastically launched in Sydney on Oct 30th.
NBN Co’s Anne Hurley and Sean O’Halloran from Alcatel-Lucent Australia welcomed everyone to the event and introduced two panel discussions.
The first was themed around the state of innovation in Australia. Jason Collins, global head of ng Connect, introduced the programme, explaining how the ecosystem functions, what it means to be an ng Connect member, the types of problems the programme addresses, and some of the outcomes from collaboration.
Mike Lott from New Zealand telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus explained its involvement in the programme and the value ng Connect offers the company and the country.
Dr Kate Cornick, Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) at the University of Melbourne, talked about Australia’s innovation landscape and the core components of an innovative economy, highlighting some good examples of collaboration in the healthcare industry.
The key takeout from this panel was that it’s not about the technology; it’s about what we’re doing with the technology. The focus is on shifting the debate away from the actual speed towards what, as an economy, we will do with it – what kind of new digital goods and services will we build and how will innovators use broadband to create new businesses and growth for Australian companies?
Three successful Australian innovators formed the second panel, which focused on the big opportunities. The speakers included Dror Ben-Naim from Smart Sparrow, specialists in personalised and adaptive learning. He was joined by James Nathan who recently launched his business Food Orbit to increase value for primary food producers (farmers) by connecting them in the value chain to cafés, restaurants and caterers. Rachel Dickson from Viocorp spoke about teleworking and emphasised the importance of innovation around delivering a better user experience
The ng Connect launch was attended by a great mix of companies ranging from start-ups through to established multinationals and representatives from universities, government and industry association groups. Many of the 29 companies there were from the health, education and agriculture sectors, which are the initial focus of the ng Connect programme in Australia.
Five companies have already applied to join the ng Connect programme, with strong interest from another 15. Overall, it’s a very positive outcome that shows that companies in Australia are hungry to innovate on broadband, and are enthusiastic about ng Connect’s aim to shift the conversation away from technology and towards new broadband application and service development through interesting business models.
There is a real buzz about ng Connect’s potential in Australia. I’m really looking forward to being part of realising the potential.