Innovation Bay Pitches In, Entrepreneurs Plate Up

Last night I hosted a fun Angel Dinner together with my Innovation Bay co-conspirators. Ross Dawson has covered the event most admirably – check out his blog post of the event. I’d like to thank those who attended: the entrepreneurs who stepped up to the plate and gave excellent pitches, NICTA for sponsoring, Table for Twenty for their excellent service, but most of all, Phaedon Stough and Ian Gardiner for pulling it all together on top of their busy day jobs.

As Ross mentioned we had someone from the Federal Department of Innovation introduce the group to the Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute. That someone was Donna Valenti and I am most grateful to her for making the trek down from Canberra.

I’d asked Donna to come along as a way to kickstart a dialogue around what the formula for success should be for the CCI. They are in a process of consulting the start up community and it was good to have her share their current thinking.

The key questions for me, with respect to the CCI are: How best can the Australian tech community (in its broadest sense – ICT, bio, nano – researchers, entrepreneurs, investors etc) leverage this incredible opportunity to ensure Australia punches well above its current commercialisation weight? What precedents exist that we can point to, what are the measures of success and how can the Government adequately gauge sufficient economic, social and other ROI for its decision to deploy $196m initially and then around $80m annually? And finally, how can we create an environment in which entrepreneurial magic happens, continuously?

As you can imagine, I have some strong thoughts about these questions, but I’d very much like to hear your thoughts and aspirations – in an ideal world without constraints, how would you envisage the CCI unfolding?

I’d also like to hear from folks, especially in Silicon Valley, who have thoughts around how best to leverage up the current funding for the Institute so that it extends the ramp further for Australian start ups.

Startup Lesson No.1: Make Your Own Path

Last evening I had the absolute privilege of being a judge in the Creative Sydney Back My Project initiative. Chosen from a deep pool of applicants eight finalists duked it out on stage in front of a packed room at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In the background the Opera House flickered through a panoply of colours, exuding the freshness and vibrancy of Sydney and the mood of the crowd. On stage the pressure was on.

With just four minutes to present, the teams acquitted themselves extremely well and after taking questions from us judges the audience got to applaud for their favorite while we adjourned to deliberate. It didn’t take us long to realise a clear favorite had emerged from the crowd as the applause was deafening for one of the finalists.

Us judges didn’t know who this was, and independently we concurred with them – there was a clear winner. The team, Soapbox Project, had both wowed the room and for us judges we felt they would be able to achieve the most impact from the prize we could award them.

It was a great evening and especially gratifying for me to see the raw entrepreneurial and creative energy unleashing itself in this most wonderful of cities.

Now on to the topic of my heading. Every one of those finalists had one thing in common. A strong desire to carve their own way, a desire to be different, a desire not to follow the herd. This is the key trait required to be a true entrepreneur – and it is demonstrated most beautifully in the following video.

Keep watching. Keep doing:

[Via andrewg]