Does Wollongong need Innovation?

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Given Wollongong has called itself the City of Innovation for well over a decade now, we as citizens and business people should all well and truly understand exactly what it means.

However, I would suggest the average person doesn’t have a clue, and what’s more they couldn’t care less. But is that a fair judgement?

Well let’s start with a definition (from Wikipedia ** of course):
“An innovation is something original, new, and important – in whatever field – that breaks in to (or obtains a foothold in) a market or society.”

I must say this sounds to me an awful lot like what the media and investment gurus these days call a ‘disruptive technology’.

And the most important aspect of this is that it assumes there is always an existing dominant legacy player resisting the proposed changes.

The founder of Amazon, and a true internet pioneer, Jeff Bezos has been quoted on topic as saying that “if you wish to successfully pursue a disruptive technology you must have a willingness to be misunderstood”. He also added “and it usually takes 5 -7 years!”

So following his logic we should all be on the look out for someone madly trying their best over many years to change our major industries/institutions and the ways we currently perform our work and/or how we live.

But how many local people do you know who would fit this description?

Or have they all left the ‘Gong for the US or greener pastures like one of our most successful young local IT entrepreneurs I know?

Perhaps they are still beavering away somewhere out of sight hoping that someone in business or government will finally recognize their R&D efforts as worthwhile, put immediate self-interest aside and grant them some much needed financial assistance … however risky it may be perceived.

Of course, the NSW State Government has flagged its intention to support innovation, with $100m in grants from the lease of Port Kembla, and Expressions of Interest close on 12 July.

I remain hopeful that the O’Farrell Government will display some courage and foresight … after all it’s already spelt out in their NSW 2021 Regional Action Plan.

It will be interesting to see how they ultimately define innovation. As they say, “Actions speak louder than words”.

** Based on Frankelius, P. (2009), Questioning two myths in innovation literature, Journal of High Technology Management Research, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 40–51
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EDITOR – Andrew M Connery: A pioneer in social media and active online since early 2001 heads up the Editorial team. Andrew is currently undertaking doctoral research at the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Wollongong. A B2B marketing practitioner by profession his specialty area is local search and until July 2011 he was a Senior Trainer for the Federal Government’s Small Business Online program.

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