#AUSinnovates: how we’ve helped Australian innovators and what we need now

Compare and despair…

Just as some of us self-sabotage by measuring our success against the apocryphal achievements of our online social networks, Australia beats itself up with the Global Innovation Index which, like Facebook posts, is a distorted reflection of reality.

Our media love spreading bad news, especially when it’s over-simplified, so Australia’s low global ranking is reported every year, reinforcing the belief that we suck at innovation. Discussion generally focuses on what’s going wrong, generating depressing and demotivating labels like ‘postdocalypse’ and ‘innovicide’.

… or celebrate, educate and motivate!

In January 2018, tiring of self-flagellation and seeking to shift focus to what’s working, gemaker MD Natalie Chapman launched the #AUSinnovates campaign. #AUSinnovates harnesses the power of social media and collaboration to find and share commercialisation success stories from research organisations and innovative businesses around Australia.

There’s no charge to, or obligation on, participating organisations. #AUSinnovates rewards innovators’ smart thinking and hard work and promotes their continued success with free publicity. The hope is to inspire more Aussie innovators to persist in developing their great ideas and guide others’ future commercialisation with lessons learnt.

In the first year, gemaker resourced #AUSinnovates, expending $23K in labour and advertising costs. Natalie’s vision and enthusiasm attracted some in-kind support from the CRC Association, Science and Technology Australia, Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia, METS Ignited, MTP Connect, ANSTO, BioMelbourne Network and Refraction Media.

The power of positivity

What impact did #AUSinnovates achieve in its first year?

  • We found and featured 41 innovation success stories on the #AUSinnovates website and social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram)
  • We reached an average of 9,706 people per story, engaging with a wide audience from industry, government, academia and the general public, including potential investors, collaborators and customers for the innovators.
  • The #AUSinnovates website attracted almost 8,000 unique users in our first year, 63% from Australia, 17% from the US, and 20% from elsewhere.
  • #AUSinnovates posts also drove traffic to the websites of participating innovators and their institutions.
  • Government departments cited #AUSinnovates stories in consultations with Federal Ministers.
  • Austrade staff used #AUSinnovates to identify relevant companies for participation in a Pilot Network Program in the Education sector in the US.
  • After seeing our post about Monash University’s world-first ‘smart drying’ technology for milk powders, one of the world’s largest chemical companies expressed interest and opened discussions with the university, involving their international team.

 Our most popular stories were:

We’re proud of #AUSinnovates’ achievements so far, but we’d like to do more to promote Australian innovation and research commercialisation.

Help us to help more Aussie innovators

Innovation will grow the new and improved industries on which Australia’s future wellbeing depends. If you want to support the success of Australian innovators, here are some simple things to do right now:

We’re also looking for other funding sources, sponsors and in-kind supporters. If you’ve got a vision for turning up the volume on the #AUSinnovates channel, we’d love to hear your ideas, so please get in touch.

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