InnovationAus marks 1000th edition as industry shifts gears

James Riley
Editorial Director

Publishing is not for the faint hearted. It’s a tough business, making it all the more important to celebrate milestones along the way.

So please, indulge me as I take a trip down memory lane to highlight our 1000th edition of the morning newsletter.

InnovationAus has been publishing for seven years. It took us more than five years to publish the first 500 editions, and then less than two years to publish the next 500.

When I hit the ‘send’ button on our very first newsletter, InnovationAus had just one reporter (me), but was soon supported by an ensemble crew of some of the most experienced tech journos in the country – Beverley Head, Stuart Kennedy, Michael Sainsbury and Graeme Phillipson among them.

We published once a week.

Today, we employ four full-time reporting staff, including editor Justin Hendry and senior reporter Joseph Brookes based in Sydney, with reporter Brandon How and myself based in the press gallery in Canberra. For years, our reporting backbone came through Denham Sadler, who still contributes freelance articles as he pursues further postgraduate studies.

A leading art director, Michelle Turcsanyi, came on board, while the commercial side includes producers, event managers and business development leads, and our publisher Corrie McLeod.

We now publish daily through the work week.

While our journalism is one stream of work, it is only a part of the content this team produces, which includes roundtables, whitepapers, forums and lunches, podcasts and videos – and our annual InnovationAus Awards for Excellence – all of the commercial activities that help to pay for the journalism.

When that first edition was published in July 2015, Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister and Ian ‘Chainsaw’ Macfarlane was the Industry minister.

Prime Ministers have come and gone. Priorities have changed and changed again. And the Industry portfolio has become the hot potato of Australian politics. An accelerated revolving door.

There have been ten different Industry ministers to hold the office since was set up. Try naming all ten (in order). It’s harder than you think: see the list at the bottom of this story.

It is worth recalling the stories that made up that first newsletter in 2015, because it reflects the market that we have tried to serve. Here are the headlines:

DTO: Turnbull gets his man – Then-Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that he had personally selected UK digital leader Paul Shetler as the first CEO of the then-Digital Transformation Office. (Paul was a hugely influential figure in Australia and would become a close family friend in the years before his untimely death in 2020.) Interesting in relation to the depth of the ongoing troubles at the DTA, as evidenced by this story from newsletter number 999 on Monday.

Tech procurement is a bit of a mess – This column makes the blindingly obvious point that government’s purchasing power is an important policy lever for improving industry development outcomes. Has it got any better? No, says this story from newsletter number 999 on Monday.

ICT key to AgriTech advances – This report covers the recommendations of an Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

New rules open SIV dollar pipeline – Remember when relations with China were rosy and we welcomed investment cash from high net worth Chinese? This story outlined changes to the Significant Investor Visa aimed at attracting more dollars.

Opposition grows to R&D cuts – The government’s proposed 1.5 per cent cut to the R&D tax rebate passes the lower house while opponents hope that it will be defeated in the Senate.

China tech trade is a rounding error – The China-Australia free trade agreement (ChAFTA) is bereft of a meaningful tech relationship.

In search of tech bipartisanship – A ‘unity ticket’ on innovation policy is talked about a lot, but carries little substance.

Our interest, always, is to play a positive role in helping to build Australian capability – to provide connective tissue between different parts of the Australian innovation community.

We focus on the policies and programs that impact Australian companies that own their own IP, that are producing real revenues and that have ambitions to take their products to the world. We have been less interested in capital raises, and more interested in revenue growth,

We have also always had an interest in the markets of Asia, most particularly ASEAN, rather than following the well-worn path to San Francisco and the valley.

We have invested much of our efforts in recent years to covering deep tech commercial outfits, and the research sector – with a focus on research translation. We absolutely love this stuff.

The Industry portfolio is vast. It covers horizontal and vertical sectors. Its own programs are influenced by the policy positions of other portfolios and other ministries.

Whether its education policy or research funding, or access to skills through immigration programs, or the tax treatment of any number of things through Treasury, or procurement policy through Finance, the Industry portfolio succeeds, or treads water based on whole-of-government efforts.

Through our reporting, we have strived to connect different parts of our ecosystem together. Specialist publications are generally vertical – covering cars or health or aged care or fintech.

Our publication is horizontal. We try to give different parts of the community exposure to people and policies and companies that they would not normally come across.

Through InnovationAus, I have had the opportunity to interview hundreds of incredible people. I am immensely proud of the people this country produces, and of the many smart, talented, ambitious friends that we have made as a publication.

We are proud of the role that we play in the Australian innovation community, and look forward to telling these important national stories for years to come.

Industry ministers in Australia since mid-2015:

  • Ian Macfarlane
  • Christopher Pyne
  • Greg Hunt
  • Arthur Sinodinos
  • Karen Andrews
  • Christian Porter
  • Scott Morrison
  • Angus Taylor
  • Ed Husic

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

  1. Congratulations James and team. A noble pursuit, achieved with flare, thanks for being such an important part of our industry landscape.

  2. Congratulations well done.

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