Innovation has come up time and again as policy makers grapple with how to stimulate economic growth and job creation after the global financial crisis.
The Qld Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett, says that Innovation is best described as ‘ideas successfully applied’.
Google’s approach was outlined on p7 of the Review Section of the Australian Financial Review of 3 October 2014. Google allows staff to ‘do their own thing’ and looks for ‘moonshot’ ideas that will give a 10 fold increase in business rather than a 10% increase. They also have a ‘fast fail’ approach, try something, if it fails, drop it fast and move on.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (http://www.afgc.org.au/) annual State of the Industry report notes that turnover is up slightly, job numbers are down, exports are up and there is a rising trade surplus on food. However, investment is down while imports are up. The need for a greater focus on investment is highlighted. So, without Innovation we will have problems.
A range of national and international commentators have spoken about the need for a new, more intensive approach to economic development and Innovation. These commentators range from the OECD (http://www.oecd.org/) which has developed an interesting Innovation policy document, and the Australian Industry Minister (http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/speaker/ian-macfarlane/) to the Australian Chief Scientist (http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/), who proposes a balanced set of Innovation programs . The Australian Government’s programs will focus on five sectors where it feels we can be competitive, including agribusiness and food.
World Economic Forum (http://www.weforum.org/) data comparing productivity and Innovation of different countries shows that Australia is being overtaken by a range of countries and is falling behind key competitors. WEF data also shows that our level of networking of companies with other companies, science laboratories, university business departments and other sources of advice and input is at the bottom of international tables.
The B20 group is a business group linked to the G20 Heads of Government meeting and aims to develop business focussed policies for consideration by the annual G20 meetings http://www.b20australia.info/. The B20 group developed an impressive range of proposals for theG20 meeting recently held in Brisbane. Part of these proposals call for ‘real ambition in employment plans’. The G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting in Brisbane in September agreed with the Australian proposal that the G20 aim for a 2% growth rate into the future.
Even the Courier Mail, on p2 in its Careers supplement of Saturday 27 September 2014 spoke of the need to ‘Innovate or Die’. The Courier Mail suggested that careers of the future will turn doers into thinkers who act on their ideas as the Australian economy seeks strength through Innovation.
However, all the analysis on Innovation says it is hard to plan it and that staff need the freedom to try new ideas without penalty for failure. Also, that Innovation is much more than R&D and needs a multidisciplinary team. It’s simply not possible, nor practical for one person to do it all!
For those who want to have a go and are confused about how, FoodStream is a professional food science and engineering company for the food manufacturing industry, www.foodstream.com.au. FoodStream is also the Technical Hub of Innovation Optimisers, http://innovationoptimisers.com/, which provides Australia and the region with its first Outsourced Innovation Team. So, no need to struggle if you are a small company, or even a medium one – there is now an alternative business model that can help drive and deliver successful Innovation in the marketplace.
For example, there is significant, growing market demand in Australia for long shelf life products which give convenient ready-to-eat meals with no loss of flavour, texture and nutrition, and are preservative free. New approaches to thermal processing provide an opportunity for developing new products in this growing market area. FoodStream lead the region in this technology – with one of our Engineers, Chris Bourne speaking recently at the AIFST Conference in Melbourne, about the latest developments/opportunities in this technology.
However, it’s more than just the technology. Identifying the right product for a specific market niche and working out how to support the product in the market needs a team. Innovation Optimisers can help with this kind of team – they have a team of 40+ experts covering all aspect of Innovation – from Marketing/Sales, to R&D, Quality Control, Engineering – creating new plant & equipment through to commercialisation expertise. Innovation Optimisers operate within the Asia Pacific Region.