Telstra Innovation Challenge three years on
As the Chief Technology Officer and head of innovation for Telstra I spend a lot of mental energy on thinking about what makes for successful innovation and what drives this. For me innovation can be broken down to three factors; opportunity, talent and investment.
When I established the Telstra Innovation Challenge three years ago, I realised that as a corporation we have the ability to provide all three of these factors to external parties as well as within Telstra itself.
Through the Innovation Challenge we have the opportunity to provide third parties with unique support – be this access to our national networks, our diverse range of products, our strategic partners, our subject matter experts, networks of colleagues such as venture capitalists or a myriad of other types of support.
At Telstra we attract talent – both in terms of the people who work here, but also in the types of people who come to us for support. Entrepreneurial talent is a scarce and precious commodity, and this needs to be nurtured for full development. Corporations are traditionally very good at managing commercial and technological talent, but often fail to realise that entrepreneurial talent is as much a prerequisite for successful innovation. Part of the support Telstra can offer is access to commercial and technology talent, but also access to my own team who innovate for a large corporation.
And there is investment. I have been asked many times why Telstra does not offer a cash incentive as part of the Innovation Challenge. This was a deliberate decision, and one we think offers better outcomes. The monetary value of Telstra’s support and the knowledge we can transfer is considerable. At Telstra we are offering to invest our time and resources for a period, not give a one off grant.
Organic innovation is not something that happens overnight, it needs time, resourcing and a focus on the important rather than the urgent. Through the Telstra Innovation Challenge we are able to assist the chosen projects to develop and mature.
I am excited by the opportunities that are present in projects that the 2011 Telstra Innovation Challenge will support. Once again they demonstrate the breadth of opportunity that can be enhanced by telecommunications. They also show how a corporation can provide real and tangible support to grassroot, and small business projects to make a lasting difference.
Telstra and I look forward to developing these relationships and working with the winning organisations to provide customised support that is unique to each project.