Innovator of the Year 2018 (IOTY) opened for Applications last week. Applications were formally by Christopher Tallentire MLA, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science.
I was fortunate to moderate a wonderful panel for the launch which included leaders from Medical Science, Mineral Resources, Energy, AgriTech, Research, Government and Technology. Joining me on the WA IOTY Launch Panel discussion were;
Professor Lyn Beazley, 2015 W.A. Australian of the Year and former WA Chief Scientist, who kicked off the discussion with examples of the significant economic and social impact that innovation can bring across the State. The IOTY program promotes job creation, economic diversification and future skills development in Western Australia. As part of the State's New Industries it strengthens in areas such as innovation in the resources sector, human health, automation, energy, agriculture, education and the environment.
The Joondalup Innovation Hub brings together Edith Cowan University as is a world leader in research and education, innovation expertise, the Australian Security Growth Network, AustCyber, and the Cyber Security CRC. Steve Marmion (Economic Development Advisor, City of Joondalup) discussed how the Hub is building global leadership and jobs in the sector. He also pointed out some of the many advantages of being an innovator focused on high growth sectors with significant underlying demand.
Woodside Energy proactively works with energy sector researchers, startups, SMEs and young innovators to provide demand for future skills. Neil Kavanagh, Chief Scientist & Technology Manager of Woodside Energy, pointed out the power of innovation to engage communities throughout Western Australian regions. He then expanded on the positive outcomes for communities that come from innovation and collaboration, providing excellent examples of outcomes in the Pilbara of innovators working across the value chain.
Innovation in the Agricultural sector is important to improving the efficiency of food production and distribution. Dr Natasha Ayers, MD and CoFounder of agri-business experts AgriStart, has helped many companies grow through collaboration and innovation. She shared her experiences of where and how companies are leveraging new technologies focused on innovations in agriculture and regional development. Tash also touched on growing the food industry through skills development, engagement and innovation
Mitsubishi is in its tenth year as the Principal Sponsor of the Awards. David Lake, General Manager of Mitsubishi Australia Ltd and IOTY Judge, highlighted the importance of the IOTY Awards to promote and acknowledge the success of Western Australian innovators. In addition, the many outcomes that come from bringing innovative people together to contribute to success across all sectors.
The IOTY Awards have a history of activating and strengthening industry-university research collaborations. Steve Durkin (Safescape) added his company’s experience of leveraging Universities and how researchers helped strengthen their high growth business. He then expanded on the benefits the company gained from being part of the 2017 IOTY Awards and how winning the Emerging Category with Safescape Edge Protector has helped them further scale.
The IOTY program is an initiative of the State Government's New Industries Fund, which aims to enable SMEs to develop greater opportunities to commercialise their innovations and expand to create new jobs.
The initiative has supported and showcased innovative businesses since 2006. Some of the many high growth companies that have benefited include FastBrick Robotics, iCetana, SEQTA, TrackEm, Tap into Safety, ScanCam, Group and Fusion Books.
Canva CoFounder, Melanie Griffiths, has previously commented that being part of the W.A. Innovator of the Year Awards as CoFounder of Fusion Books had "opened more doors than she could have dreamed of. Getting great advice in the early stages of our business had a huge impact on our strategies and success. It’s a fantastic program that’s had a huge impact on us.”
In a survey of prior IOTY participants, the firms had reported that being involved in the awards later led to them employing more staff and that the awards led to increased investment from business angels and venture capitalists. The companies also reported they were now focusing on domestic plus international markets with more than 45% of those survey respondents now successfully exporting their products or services overseas.