Wollongong may not seem the most obvious place …

MagLevThe new Turnbull Government has just announced that it will spend $28m to educate the wider Australian population about the virtues of fostering innovation in this country.

Which I must say sounds a sensible enough proposition particularly since based on my own personal experience I reckon virtually no one (outside of academe, senior government and industry figures) currently understands exactly what innovation actually is.

Basic questions such as ‘How do you define it? Where do you find it? and How do you make it prosper?’ spring immediately to mind.

So I look forward to seeing their efforts and in particular what they have to say about my own specialty ‘Perceived Disruptive Innovations’ … see future blogs on topic or check out my thesis.

Which brings me back to my home town of Wollongong.

Let me first acknowledge that I understand that many people would not consider NSW’s third largest city as being the most obvious place to seek out innovation in Australia.

However it may have a lot more going for it than most would assume.

For one it is the only geographical place in this country (probably the world) with the official tagline of ‘City of Innovation’ (over 10 years) and to give credit where it’s due the local council was targeting the need for innovation well before any other policy-makers.

In conjunction with the council and under the guidance of a visionary Vice-Chancellor the University of Wollongong developed an extensive Innovation Campus over the past decade at Fairy Meadow.

What’s more the university is presently in the middle of constructing a dedicated $20m+ business incubator (with the aid of the NSW State Government) at the Innovation Campus to be called the iAccelerate.

According to Director Elizabeth Eastland it will support the efforts of local entrepreneurs with an eco-system designed to mix industry players and VC providers with researchers and would be start-ups.

When considering major innovations that changed the whole world few exceed the introduction of manned flight. Most people are completely unaware that one of the most influential pioneers of manned flight not only lived in the northern suburbs of Wollongong but conducted his crucial box kite experiments at Stanwell Tops just a few kilometres north of the township of Stanwell Park over 130 years ago.

In recent times a particularly innovative piece of modern infrastructure was constructed within sight of Lawrence Hargrave’s old house.

A balanced cantilever bridge the $52 million structure links the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton. Named by public competition, the Sea Cliff Bridge has captured the imagination of locals and tourists marvel at the innovative way engineers overcame the perennial problem of falling rocks that plagued the old road for decades and finally made it unusable.

So you can see Wollongong has a lot going for it when it comes to identifying the need for innovation to build successful technology-based businesses, particularly those which have the potential to translate into much needed high paying locally-based jobs.

PUBLISHER: Dr Andrew M Connery has been active online since 2001. Andrew completed his PhD at the UOW’s Sydney Business School in 2015 his doctoral dissertation ‘Overcoming Barriers to the Introduction of Perceived Disruptive Innovations in to Rigid Efficient Systems’. A B2B marketing practitioner and SEO/SEM consultant by profession his specialty area is overcoming local search engine bias.

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