Five Years of the Canberra Innovation Network

Five years ago on the 7th of November 2014, on Level 5 of the ACT Health Building at 1 Moore Street, something unique, different and significant was being announced.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher launched the Canberra Innovation Network – a broad collaboration of world-class academic and research institutions who committed to working together.

With the support of the ACT Government (in an initiative led by then Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr) these institutions agreed to co-create and co-fund a not-for-profit organisation to connect, promote and accelerate the growth of the innovation ecosystem in the ACT.

The Australian National University, University of Canberra, University of New South Wales Canberra, Canberra Institute of Technology, CSIRO and Data61 (NICTA) saw that by working together with the government and industry, they can achieve greater synergy and better target the market failures that exist for translation of ideas and knowledge into innovation companies, especially in the early and vulnerable stages.

Having brought together the Entry29 coworking community and the investor-led GRIFFIN Accelerator, the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) was a startup of its own.

CBRIN had experimented with a number of approaches in search of its core offering to lift the profile of Canberra as a clever, connected and creative city fuelled by excellence in research, innovation and entrepreneurship. Corporate supporters have been attracted to join the network on this journey, including King & Wood Mallesons, PwC, Optus and recently ActewAGL.

Nowadays the network is known for its focus on empowering entrepreneurs to make an impact and change the world. We respect two underlying principles:

  • An innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem in which the generation of knowledge is interlinked and balanced with the capacity of entrepreneurs, companies and the applied sector to exploit the knowledge.
  • Collective impact that puts collaboration and collective progress above immediate gain of individual parties.

With our team and partners, we work towards:

    1. increasing the innovation capacity of the academic, corporate and government sectors,
    2. supporting the development of the ecosystem’s entrepreneurial capacity and
    3. creating the place – a central innovation hub that is linked to innovation precincts grown by our Foundation Members in different specialisations across the city.

We also connect, promote and support other programs and organisations active in innovation within the ACT. Programs like The Mill House Ventures that grows new generations of social enterprises, AustCyber Canberra Node that grows the cybersecurity industry in the ACT, Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri Technology (CEAT) that provides an environment for commercialisation of new technologies for agriculture, and other initiatives as they emerge and seek to leverage the network’s resources and connections. We are not limited by the Territory’s border, we link regionally, nationally and internationally to make connections and opportunities available to our companies, researchers and the ecosystem.

Most importantly though, the network is all about people. The people who build companies, people who mentor, invest or collaborate to make great initiatives happen. The Board, the Advisory Committee who work behind the scenes, the team and its extended form that includes all collaborating programs in the ecosystem, the people in the ACT Government and across the Foundation Members and Gold Partners who provide essential support to help nurture and grow a great variety of new emerging initiatives.

At this five-year mark, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone involved for all the effort, passion, courage and drive dedicated to growing and cultivating the essential innovation and entrepreneurial layer of the city we all love. Thanks to you, the network gets annually over 10 thousand visitors, can host over 250 events and can assist hundreds of commercialising researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs through various workshops and growth programs, including coworking, acceleration, incubation, Innovation Connect grants and collaborative innovation programs. Thanks to you the network’s First Wednesday Connect has become a national phenomenon, and an essential pulse of our innovation ecosystem. With its 50th edition coming up in a couple of weeks as the annual innovation showcase, First Wednesday Connects have now connected 5000 unique attendees to a great variety of innovation opportunities.

To celebrate the five years, to hear from Chief Minister Andrew Barr and to meet the people who are changing the world as well as those who work behind the scenes, please join us at the 2019 Innovation Showcase on December 4th at the BentSpoke Cannery in Mitchell. I hear something innovative is brewing to make this event a very special one.

-Petr Adamek, CEO of the Canberra Innovation Network.

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