Judging Australian Innovations

There are still Australians who can come up with clever ideas and are willing to invest enormous amounts of their energy and money to bring them to fruition. Sadly, in the past, some of the innovations have had to go offshore to be recognised – the coronary stent being a good example. But now the Consensus Innovation Awards provide a local platform for early recognition of Australian innovators and entrepreneurs.

Last week I was a judge at the inaugural Innovation Awards. It was an interesting experience. Ten judges from a wide range of backgrounds gathered in Sydney to listen to the finalists’ presentations then question and assess each one.

Some filtering had taken place before a small number of finalists where chosen to face the daunting task of presenting to the judging panel. We had all received detailed written submissions in advance of the presentations. The finalists spanned a range of products: an innovative development for evaporative air conditioning systems; a voice recognition system that promises to remove the need for passwords and personal information checks; a waste management planning/scheduling/tracking and reporting system based on mobile devices; and a high level collaborative life cycle tool.

It was fascinating to be involved in this process. We were a diverse group with experience in such areas as: venture capital; information technology; human resources; futurism; and patents. We evaluated not just the innovative aspect of each offering but also its performance and its potential; so business plans, funding, and approaches to distribution and company growth were as important as the innovativeness of the entry.

At the presentation dinner Senator Kate Lundy presented awards to the winners: ArmorVox and Wastedge.com, two significant Australian innovations that are already having an impact both locally and overseas. Of course, not every entry could receive an award, but the dedication, energy and passion of each of the presenters was impressive and bodes well for the future of Australian innovations.

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