Thursday, November 26, 2015

My experiences in the innovation sector; challenges, advantages (CC-BY)

It's innovation week in Melbourne next week, and this is my blogpost contributing to that event. So here are a few reflections on my time involved with Innovation.

First, I'll paint a little context about me. I work for ANDS[1], a Federally funded innovation project, to invest in the research data infrastructure of the 21st Century. ANDS encourages researchers to better manage and share research data, and universities to manage research data as an asset. I wrote my Innovation PhD at UQ Business School about understanding innovation in a complex dynamic environment, looking at how and why consumers switched to smartphones[2]. See more of my work and career at LinkedIn[3].

Innovation is not simple and easy, involves seeking answers to hard questions, and working towards building a better world. This takes time and effort, and sometimes slow progress. My work relates to industry, research, policy and data and linking all together in a continuing dialogue.

My industry work at ANDS is about helping Universities to transition to managing research data as an asset. This involves training, discussions, and community events. Such events are where people get supported with knowledge delivery, skills building and gently building the business case for ANDS work. We see ANDS work as an innovation that creates value for Universities, researchers and the nation. As a value specialist, I am always pushing for a deeper understanding of what value means for ANDS and those we engage with. This work supports ANDS goal of "more valuable data for Australian research".

About 10% of my time, is spent on research where I focus on questions like: how to measure innovation and value creation? How to manage innovation and value creation? This is tricky since value is much more than tangible assets, and finding ways to measure the intangibles is challenging. See my work on dimensions of value[4]. I found 12 dimensions, such as time, simplicity, need and reliability. This work also involves talking to industry, and other innovation academics (for example, Prof Paul Jensen, Unimelb, Prof Jason Potts, RMIT, A/Prof Tim Kastelle, UQ Business School). I am also working to encourage an ongoing forum, like the ANDS Communities events, to bring Industry, Academics and Government into a regular discussion. I call such a forum, the VCIPP[5] (Victorian Council for Innovation and Public Policy), to explore positive steps in Victoria to better understand, manage and exploit innovations. This is similar to the Victorian Labor policy[6] for Innovation.

Lastly, I am very interested in helping Innovation policy people think about innovation as a complex, dynamic system. Thinking about innovation this way means you need complex concepts like value creation to help understand that type of innovation. Trying to expose where value is created leads me to work creating public datasets that researchers can mine for such information. I see the ATO (Australian Tax Office) as a key data curator of relevant data. Data such as revenue and profit data by industry, location and for both companies and individuals are important proxies for innovation. The company data is public[7] and shows 12 years of Australia's growth over 250 industries. I am working with the ATO to get access to individual data, hopefully by postcode, but more likely by region, where I can show growing and shrinking industries by location as a proxy for innovation.


Innovation is a difficult but important topic to understand. Many resources are available to draw on, such as Government policy reports[8][9], Consulting reports[10], as well as academic literature [11], and podcasts discussing innovative industries[12][13]. Navigating this mass of information, I use my Twitter feed to collect and record these useful data sources. This material is endlessly interesting but making sense of it is time-consuming. The world seems to be changing so fast, that our personal area of deep understanding seems to shrink year by year. Yet I am positive about how much difference motivated and interested people can make working together.

I look forward to Innovation Week as an opportunity to have many interesting conversations with many interesting people, to help make Victoria and Australia a better place, through learning, working and engaging around innovation.

For more, you can see my blog[14] which links to my academic writing, see me tweet innovation references on interest (@valueMgmt), or mail me at
  1. ANDS (Australian National Data Service) online at:
  2. Ferrers, R. (2013) A consumer 'value' theory of innovation: a grounded theory approach. Online at: figshare. PhD thesis.
  3. Ferrers, R. (2015). Online CV at:
  4. Ferrers, R. (2014). What Consumers Value: Learning from Ten Years of Smartphones. Viewed online at:
  5. Ferrers, R. (2015). VCIPP: a proposal for an ongoing engagement around innovation; Victorian Government, Industry and Academia. Online at:
  6. Andrews, D. (2014). Labor's Plan for Innovation. Online at:’s-Plan-for-Innovation.pdf
  7. Ferrers, R., ATO (2014). Australian Company Results by Fine Industry 2000-2012 per Tax Office.
  8. US OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy). Online at:
  9. NESTA. Online at:
  10. McKinsey & Co (2013). The Eight Essentials of Innovation Peformance. Online at:
  11. Research Policy. Online at:
  12. Asymco Critical Path Podcast. Online at:
  13. Daring Fireball Podcast. Online at:
  14. Ferrers, R. (2015). Value Management: Innovation 2.0;

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