Collaboration: An Advanced Digital Innovation
By David Thodey, and Chairman,
There has never been an easier, or more important, time to embrace collaboration. Rapidly evolving digital innovation connects us; cheaper and faster international travel brings us together; and instant access to worldwide news and information unites us through shared experiences. In turn, that collaboration gives us access to diversity of thought, depth of specialisation, and new opportunities. These aren’t just nice to have, they’re essential to remaining competitive and at the forefront of new advances.
“A career in telecommunications earns you an appreciation for how easy it is these days to work together across diversities of geography, time zones, languages, cultures and backgrounds”
After many years as CEO of Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, and leadership roles at IBM before that, my thinking about collaboration has shifted a bit now that I’m chairman of Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO. In the business world, collaboration as a means to deliver financial returns to shareholders or sell more products is a fairly
good incentive to get together and brainstorm. But great ideas can be hard to share, especially when that idea might have been generated from years and years of hard work at a lab bench or out gathering data in the field. And financial rewards don’t necessarily make that any easier in science – there’s often a perception that the role of science is to focus on the purity of numbers and robustness of experimental design, not to be spruiking for sales.
Despite staggering growth in our neighbouring Asian countries over recent decades, the US is still CSIRO’s largest commercial and research partner. One of our patents licensed in the US is our ‘Remote-I’ solution – using satellite broadband to connect city-based eye specialists with patients in remote areas. It was licensed just last year to TeleMedC, a Silicon Valley spin-off, which plans to take our science to the world market as part of its ‘EyeScan’ diagnostic solutions. We have relationships with government arms like NASA, NOAA, USDA, Department of Energy and NIST; development agencies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; private companies including GE, Bayer AG, and Boeing; and universities such as Caltech, University of California system.
A career in telecommunications earns you an appreciation for how easy it is these days to work together across diversities of geography, time zones, languages, cultures and backgrounds. The common experience of science brings us back to the same values of evidence-based decision-making and a curious spirit to seek out new applications for our learning’s. Recent graduates of our sci-tech accelerator ON will be visiting Silicon Valley in October, and we’re looking forward to having a chat about how we can collaborate with you.