Is it Time to Disrupt the Inventions Process?
It’s an old story. Australia has some brilliant minds. We have made some truly remarkable inventions. The boomerang, the Hills Hoist, the Orbital Engine. What is is it about Australia that produces minds such as Lawrence Hargrave (without him, the Wright Brothers probably wouldn’t have got off the ground), Gilbert Toyne (without him, Lance Hill would not have produced the Hills Hoist), Mervyn V Richardson (The V is for Victor – or as we know it now, “Victa”), Fiona Wood (Spray on Skin), Ralph Sarich (the Orbital Engine) and Fiona Stanley (Researcher and Epidemiologist)?
All of these innovators possess a common trait – a passion for their invention or discovery and are highly persistent.
Whilst we are pretty good at inventing things, when it comes to commercialisation of the idea we generally have a hard time finding like minded backers. We punch above our weight as innovators – but we wallow at getting to market. Regardless, Australia has no lack of entrepreneurial spirit.
However this is about to get disrupted. Keep reading.
A natural place to look for invention and innovation is in the Universities of the world. Most of them have a tech transfer office (TTO) – whose sole purpose is to assist innovators in connection with backers. A quick Google search will show you a whole host of websites that promise that they “welcome new ideas each day”, “a new startup launched every 4 weeks” or “giving businesses the spark they need”. With this in mind, why do Aussie inventors still have problems getting funding? An answer could be that there is a natural leaning in most TTOs towards assisting existing businesses with their licensing. Established companies already know what they’re doing. The process is not as long winded, plus it’s cheaper than it would be for a startup company. This is not true just in Australia – other countries also understand the path of least resistance.
Where there is a stark contrast between Australia and, say the US or Europe, is when it comes to developing an idea further. For example – in the US, a researcher is quite often supported and backed to take leave from their studies and form a fledgling startup. Most are supported by venture capital or angel investment.
In Australia this is quite a rare event. Researchers wishing to do this have to fight tooth and nail to get their innovation research funded. It would be interesting to learn what disruptive innovations have simply died on the vine as a result.
The exciting news is that the high tech industry is now being encouraged to take advantage of an opportunity to participate in over $1 billion of early stage venture capital. This funding is for Australian innovators to translate their ideas into Australian businesses. The list is pretty impressive:
- CSIRO fund ($200M)
- Commonwealth Government Biomedical translation fund ($500M)
- Go8 universities fund ($200M)
- Uniseed ($70M)
- Another $500M+ from investors such as Blue Sky Funds, One Ventures, Blackbird, Square Peg and Two Ventures
All of this capital is aimed at creating manufacturing, service and digital businesses in Australia. So what are you waiting for?