Australia as an innovation hub

| October 30, 2015

It is crucial that the government and we as communities adapt to coming changes. Peter Fritz explains why we need to plan today with tomorrow in mind.

We often talk about democracy and broader engagement. Yet we are afraid to give the people the ability to contribute. We are afraid of having dissent, and hence there is usually very little participation. I believe that in the Australia of the 21st century there is no reason why everyone should not be able to play a part in running this country. After all it is part of the human rights declaration.

The fear of failure brings serious consequences to those who work in the public service space and precludes any kind of imaginative measures. It’s well known that transformation and innovation are risky business. For innovation to flourish, we should encourage pilot projects alongside the main entity’s existing operations. Then we can transition risk-free or use those initiatives which prove valuable and deliver outcomes.

We talk about paradigm shifts and technology. Our planning has followed the standard economist’s view of the world, which extrapolates the current situation into infinity and does not predict the inflections. We can’t plan this way any longer. We have to plan for tomorrow with tomorrow in mind. We must bear in mind the paradigm shifts that are clearly visible today.

Take for instance the pharmacies. They are a central service provided by 5,500 shop fronts in Australia. They are vital to community living. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has been successful in forestalling the emergence of oligopolies, in other words, Coles and Woolworths, making inroads. But the danger to the suburban pharmacy is no longer the oligopolies. The danger is the supply chain, which now allows each one of us to buy our medicine directly from the manufacturer with an electronic prescription. So while we are looking at defending the waterfront in one direction, in fact the attack comes from a completely different direction, where we have absolutely no control.

So the question of how we adapt to the coming changes is part of what government and what we as a community should focus on. Plans 10 years ahead are laid out today.

Infrastructure is a good example for this: We have over-invested in electricity infrastructure. We are talking about dams in the water space when we already have invested in the wrong infrastructure for city water. Behavioural change in consumers can create a lowering of demand at the same time as the suppliers are investing in a possible increase of demand and hence pushing the very service price up because of lower demand and over-investment in that area. We are about to do that in road infrastructure investment. We are doing it without a view of the new paradigm shift of driverless cars. A government that is focused on problems of today with today’s tools will never lead this nation into the future.

It is always important to ask what, why, who and how. We also have to be mindful that to bring people into the future, you do have to look at who you want to please, who the losers and winners are. Because with all measures one undertakes, someone will lose, and those are going to oppose it. The best way of actually getting it into the future is by doing. Paradigm shifts give us a clue, but there is no substitute for action.

What we have to date is interminable reviews and reports and re-examining square one and two without progressing to action. We are waiting for crisis. We don’t need to do that. We should be in a position to recognise that it is the perceived risks rather than the real risks that are playing a role in our society, and we should put in place mechanisms with which those risks are mitigated. We have to have an open mind. The way we are running today, we don’t. The issue is not change in government or the three-year cycle of federal and four-year cycle of state government. The problem is that we have no method in thinking long term and planning accordingly.

Over the last 15 years Global Access Partners has been able to create entities such as the Centre for Social Impact, the Society for Knowledge Economics, the Australian Society for Progress and Wellbeing, and initiatives in health, education, the digital economies, and many other areas.

Those people who extol innovation are usually the people who don’t innovate. It takes a long time for innovations to bear fruit. Last week one of the TCG investments got TDA approval 12 years after lodging the application. One of our fastest growing investments is manufacturing t-shirts, now with an annual turnover of close to $100 Million, likely to hit $200 Million soon. Sometimes it’s the most unlikely products and services that prove to be successful. It’s partly because of people, partly because of technology enablement and partly because of fortunate timing.

So the fall-back position is to have many proverbial irons in the fire. And that is not by government or corporate management dictate. It’s by extoling the virtues of a rich life, of an interested and curious people. It’s about people peering into the future and doing something today that is going to bring an outcome tomorrow.

SHARE WITH:

Peter Fritz AM is Chairman of Global Access Partners and Group Managing Director of TCG – a diverse group of companies which has produced breakthroughs in computer and communication technologies for 45 years. He chairs a number of influential government and private enterprise boards and represented Australia on the OECD Small and Medium Size Enterprise Committee.

0 Comments

  1. Cathia

    October 30, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Testimony of loan between fast and serious
    Hello my name is Debbie IRFAN and I am shopping for pharmaceuticals
    I come in testimony of one ready between individual that I just got. I received my loan through the service of Mrs JORDI KLAUS.
    I started the proceedings with her Tuesday night passed and yesterday morning I received confirmation that the transfer of the amount of my claim of 145.000 EURO well was sent to me on my account and having consulted very soon my account in Bank, my surprise transfer is well come.
    I finally got satisfaction because it is for nearly 5 months that I was shooting in the round and that I was scammed by fake lenders.
    I urge all my relatives and friend (s) in need of contact Ms. JORDI and you will be satisfied for your loan application.
    It will be able to help you without complication for the acquisition of your financial applications.
    Here is his
    Email: Jordiverna205@gmail.com