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Speaker Snapshot: Inertia Prevents Innovation

We spoke to Marco Baccanti, Chief Executive at Health Industries SA, Government of South Australia

25Aug

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15, we spoke to Marco Baccanti, Chief Executive at Health Industries SA, Government of South Australia.

Marco is the Chief Executive of Health Industries SA, reporting to the Minister of Health and to the Premier of South Australia.

Mr Baccanti’s previous appointments include leadership positions in:

government (Executive Director of the Dubai Biomedical Research Park, UAE government)

research centres, hospitals and science parks: Managing Director of San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park - Milan, General manager of Centuria Science Park

Non Governmental organisations : President of the International Association of Science Parks – Malaga, Beijing; President of Confindustria E/R Innovation – Bologna; member of Healthy Living leadership board of World Economic Forum - Davos, Geneva and NYC

What prevents innovation?

Inertia prevents innovation. This can take many forms.

If something has been the same way for a long time, a lot people will think that that’s simply the way it is and not see the need for improvement let alone where improvements can be made. Also, people can stop themselves by not believing they could ever succeed.

As well as this personal inertia, there can also be systemic inertia when people only consider part of a system rather than the whole. When disparate parts of a system, such as a health system—from research to industry to clinical care—are siloed then innovation can only occur in a small way, such as the development of a specific new technology which might eventually make it to market. But for an entire system to evolve in a major way there needs to be greater connections to drive large innovation in the fundamental way things are done across the entire system.

How important is collaboration for effective innovation?

Collaboration is crucial for effective innovation. It is often the missing piece in creating real change. There are many great ideas and new technologies that will either take a long time to come to market and start effecting change or that will simply never be realised. Collaboration is a necessary condition to get good ideas into the mainstream fast and spreads them widely across very complex systems.

An example is Somark Innovations, which is manufacturing an integrated pre-clinical management system in Adelaide, including implanted micro-RFID technology. They have received support from the South Australian Government, through Health Industries South Australia, are collaborating with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and established their R&D and manufacturing at Tonsley Innovation District, a collaborative hi-tech hub close to CBD. This is the kind of collaboration necessary to deliver innovation: companies, government and public institutions connecting to get things done.

Can you teach somebody to be an innovator?

We all naturally tend towards inertia. You have to fight this inclination. Consequently, the most important thing to teach a person is to get out of their comfort zone. Once you’re in unfamiliar territory you’ll see things in new ways and learn at a very fast rate. It will keep you sharp and you will see opportunities more clearly.

Are there pre-requisites for effective innovation?

As well as collaboration which I’ve already discussed, there are other factors that need to be present for innovation. Government policies must be directed at streamlining processes and providing the right type of funding to companies at the right time. It’s also important to have great infrastructure that innovators can access, rather than having to build everything from scratch. Having a critical mass of companies and scientific research is important as well, not just for collaboration but also because innovation spurs more innovation. There also has to be sufficient finance from investors willing to take a chance.

What can our audience expect to hear from you in Sydney?

The recent announcement that Elon Musk is making Tesla’s next big investment—a battery more powerful than any ever built—in South Australia is the most recent example of the on-going trend for innovators choosing our state.

I’ll outline strategies and factors that are driving this; in particular, South Australian Government policies are attracting innovators, venture capital and foreign investment in hi-tech areas such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals and digital health care.

Funding, support, collaboration, and improving regulatory efficiency, combined with a cheaper cost of doing business is making Adelaide the ideal city for innovative companies.

You can catch Marco's presentation at the  Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15

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