Fitzpatrick announced he was leaving his role as the head of the industry body four months ago, and says he has used his time since to ensure a smooth transition for the organisation’s leadership.
“I’ve wanted to help through the transition to find a new CEO, to see through the AGM, and to get a fantastic new board together,” Mr Fitzpatrick told InnovationAus.com.
“I’m only leaving AIIA because this is a really important opportunity and its got all the potential of a great Australian unicorn in a sector at a tipping point globally, and it’s a great Australian technology,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. “It takes me back to my experience commercialising early venture tech and I’m really excited to take on this work with Gelion.”
As for the state of the AIIA, Mr Fitzpatrick says he feels he’s leaving it in a stronger position in a number of areas.
“A critical part of AIIA is to have a consistent and clear focus and to be recognised federally on both sides of the house and in state governments,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“When people start playing back your messages you know you’re starting to resonate. The fact the three key issues around skills, innovation and digitalisation are important on national and state agendas is a mark of success.”
Mr Fitzpatrick says he expects a new CEO and new board to be announced next week, and suggests we’ll see some surprises in the new board.
“The large players are stepping up to the plate more consistently. When the new board is announced next week you’re going to see significant brands representing the industry at the top table.”
As for the wider work of industry bodies, Mr Fitzpatrick sees collaboration as an important step forward in recent times that he hopes will continue into the future.
“Increasing connections between AIIA with ACS, AIG, Comms Alliance, Business Council and others. Industry bodies we all need to be talking together so policy makers are hearing a consistent message to drive things.”
As for Gelion, Mr Fitzpatrick says the company is still a pre-revenue startup that is reliant on the R&D tax incentive, but he’s very excited for its future.
“We’re doing demonstrators and first customers on the books, but we’re reliant on the tax incentive. The way that works is critical for engendering startups like Gelion to make sure we can get out to the world stage.”
Gelion’s technology features a gel formulation in its battery design to make for more flexible and adaptable solutions that can be deployed to remote locations having developed its own remote monitoring solutions.
“We want great skills and we have connections to the academic world through Sydney Uni and CSIRO,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. “Our founder is a Eureka Award winner, well credentialed and a really nice bloke.”
“The role of running the peak industry body is an important policy and community platform, and from that platform the ability to get back into having direct accountability to grow new technology was too good an opportunity to pass up.”