Innovation starts in every Mainstreet

innovation signage

My home town Adelaide is desperate to become a renowned Innovation City and I am very keen to help that happen ….as we need it if the city is to prosper!!

Adelaide has a unique opportunity to position itself as an Innovation Hub by capitalising on the existing Eco System that has been established and adding a few unique and missing elements.

For Innovation to flourish we need to develop a high level of support from the broader community to embrace the culture of Innovation. We need everyone to support and foster the drive and ambition of those who have the focus and opportunity engage in Entrepreneurial and Innovation projects in existing business and brand new start ups.

To do this its important to take innovation to the community and establish places where they can experience it in a manner appropriate to their situation.

While many people see Innovation as coming our of new ideas in Universities, Incubators, Think tanks etc and backed by Venture Capitalists, grants etc ….  to get Innovation that results in High Growth Ready Businesses we also need to grow it within existing business ….Micro, Small, Medium and large!!

If you have a great Innovation idea why not find an existing business that could use it and pitch it to them ….. they have what  every Entrepreneur and Innovator craves – cashflow and customers to support them.

So while we are engaging everyone in the city and getting them interested we need to get every business in every mainstreet on side too.  They need to understand that they are Innovators and Entrepreneurs already  – thats why they started their own business in the first place!!

There is no reason for any business not to be Innovating right now – they need guidance, support and a little motivation thats all.

But ……A major barrier to Innovation in existing business has been concern about loss of focus in the core business.  My  approach is to show business owners how to increase sales using digital media while implementing the changes needed to prosper in future using an proven evidence based methodology. 

There is much talk about Smart cities around the world but first we need smart neighbourhoods and main streets.

Taking Innovation to the people and using existing spaces to make innovation places is a great place to start …..put innovation where people are not expect them to be drawn to something they don’t really get!!.

Where do plan to do to get this happening in Adelaide??

Firstly we want lease a vacant shop in Hutt St with support from Government, Council and business, to be an Innovation Hub, a co-working space and a place for local business to meet and share ideas.

Why Hutt St ??   Its unique thats why – It has 2 Hospitals, a TV Studio, every major bank, several top class restaurants along with some great Cafes and two very popular pubs …. there is even an old fashioned shoe repair shop.  And its backed by a vibrant residential community.  Oh and its also a main street into the CBD of Adelaide.

The centre will develop and foster open discussion, the sharing of ideas and opinions not only related to their own business but, respectively, others within Hutt St.

Innovative ideas will be encouraged and supported – aiming to change business ambiance and profile, to seek new technology such as Cloud, to try new market concepts, to share strategies and form a bound and ownership of the street and /or Precinct.

And we will deliver a world class evidence based Innovation methodology – Selling Your way to Innovation – to fast track the prpcess

Gatherings would be regular with the Innovation centre inviting speakers and holding workshops.

Evaluation of success would be in the sharing of change and the progress of street members businesses.

Funding and sponsorship will sourced from provided services, participating businesses and government grants.

Hutt St Neighbourhood – “It’s actually a cool place to be now.”

Sharing Technology as an Enabler to Innovation

Firstly despite what most business owners think 95% of a businesses DNA is exactly the same as every other business around it. As such the business services and support the business and its owners and shareholders require are much the same, regardless of business type. Secondly many businesses can take advantage of resources and facilities when they grouped together in some kind of “mutual buying group” that they couldn’t if they are acting alone – particularly successful examples of this in the past with Internet exchanges and pharmacy mutual buying groups. Thirdly the combination of digital services and a common physical location generates synergies and advantages that either one of those aspects alone cannot give.

Some possible options to consider include:

– a common tenanted online accounting and point of sale solution, with training and support

– business training and mentoring specific to the precinct  (at least to certificate 4 in small business)

– a business association with specific classes of membership, to reward businesses that can demonstrate certain levels of corporate knowledge and systems and control within their business (much like vendor partnership schemes that offer gold silver and registered Partner status different benefits based on the investments that the businesses have made in themselves)

– a membership app for businesses, staff and residents of the precinct that ostensibly is used to generate discounts for the customers but as a byproduct collect essential data on users of the precinct and allows for easy communication, establishment of special interest groups, reviews, and lobbying.

– Using inexpensive cameras, and now ubiquitous camera technology through the precinct to enable data to be generated on everything from traffic flows, parking turnover, foot traffic, and combined with data from other sources (e.g. weather data) start generating business intelligence based on the intersection of two or more sets of data (e.g. the effect of weather on foot traffic flows versus car parking)

– intelligent digital signage and display advertising, community information, free car parking spaces, public transport information et cetera

– digital work hub to both homebase “on road” businesses in the area and allow for local businesses to expand, or test expansion until such time as they can expand their bricks and mortar presence.

– Most importantly, tie all these together with specific events that foster a sense of community amongst the businesses, amongst the local residents, and amongst the whole precinct.

Thanks to Phil Kalogeras for these simple cost effective thoughts!

But its all about the People in the City not the Technology

“We often hear people describe organisations as “innovative” … but,  the truth is they’re not … innovation is not an organisational artefact … in fact,  it vigorously defies traditional organisation and managerial practice.   

Innovation is quintessentially human.   PEOPLE do it … organisations don’t – except THROUGH their people – when they’re lucky!

… And that’s really the root of the challenge … Innovation has to become less dependent on luck:   To create scale-ups on a never-before-seen scale requires nothing less than the fostering of practical and useful innovations on a hitherto-unseen scale:   For that to happen innovation needs to become more readily accessible to people just like you and me … and not just to a select group of innovating geniuses.

Without a repeatable and scalable way of making innovation occur by design rather than luck … and carried out by people like you and me rather than scarce innovation geniuses,  a scale-up ecosystem is little more than a well-articulated pipe-dream propagated on a blast of hot air.   An innovation ecosystem has to amount to something more than a beauty parade of sexy ideas and teams assembled for the delectation and attraction of investors …. or a place where people can learn to fail faster and learn quicker. ”  – Harold Sharples

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