Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eco-innovation: building and sustaining momentum

Media release issued today 6 April 2011 by Professor Richard Hames, President, Australia21.

Australia has a choice – to see climate change as a threat to its industrial base, or to see the value eco-innovation offers - in financial gain, joint ventures, skills development, employment, and research & innovation opportunities.

There are huge openings for Australia to participate in the trillions of dollars being spent in China, the US and India on green technologies over the next few decades.

‘But there still is much work to be done in Australia to support an innovation and entrepreneurial culture capable of taking advantage of these technology opportunities’, says Professor Richard Hames, President, Australia21.

Australia is yet to develop a national approach that would see it become a global leader in resource and energy innovation.

Prof Hames noted that, ‘a major challenge for Australia is the lack of coherence between and within government departments and industry – which impedes the development of the cross-disciplinary approaches required to develop a national eco-innovation strategy’.

Yet, effective strategies for eco-innovation need to include a diversity of portfolios including: environment, science & technology, industry, transport, competition, and energy. Successful policies also require a mix of diverse tools and initiatives, from support for research and development (R&D), to market creation and export promotion.

A new OECD report, Better Policies to Support Eco-Innovation, 2011 has found that: making mature technologies more market-friendly is as important as producing new knowledge; technical and non-technical innovations matter equally; and capturing innovations originating in non-environmental domains opens a large spectrum.

Currently there are few business or deployment models that allow us to take innovations no longer protectable by patents to build entrepreneurial, equity financed ventures to bring green technologies to market.  Professor Hames says that ‘what we need is to innovate our business and social structures to bring solutions already here into use’. 

One such model is the Global Innovation Commons (GIC) which promises to spur a strong new wave of technological innovation through the sharing of new ideas rather than through exclusive, private control of them.

Professor Hames confirmed that Dr David Martin, founder of the GIC, and a speaker at an upcoming Australia21 conference, will make the point that patents often serve to impede innovative technologies and make them unaffordable—at precisely the time when all countries need to adopt cutting-edge energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

An Australia21 conference will explore all these issues and discuss solutions on 14 April 2011 at The Australian National University.

More Information contact:
Prof Richard Hames, President, Australia21, m) 0419 851 523
Dr Lynne Reeder, Executive Director, Australia21, m) 0431 608958

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Putting expired patents to work in novel ways

This post written by Richard Eckersley, posted by Paul Barratt

Putting expired patents to work in novel ways – Australia to lead on new innovation models

Ross Garnaut, head of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, recently noted that successful Australian innovation effort will encourage the effective and early use of technologies developed in other countries, as well as the discovery and application in Australia of globally new technologies.

But beyond new technologies, a wider “innovation literacy” view, including use of existing or expired patents, provides for a more comprehensive picture of the drivers of the rate and direction of innovation, and of the impediments that can prevent successful innovation.

Such an approach has been developed by David E. Martin, an intellectual property activist based in the US, who works with many developing countries. David argues that a great many green technologies are already in the public domain and are ready to be developed. They just need to be identified and put to use.

Dr Martin is founder of the Global Innovation Commons (GIC) - a massive interactive archive of energy-saving technologies whose patents have expired, been abandoned, or simply have no protection.

The GIC encourages entrepreneurs and national governments to query the database on a country-by-country basis to identify helpful technologies that are in the public domain. Once identified, these technologies for energy, water, and agriculture are prime candidates for being developed at lower costs than patented technologies.

The World Bank is a partner on this project, along with the International Finance Corporation's infoDev unit. The World Bank has estimated that the technologies in the GIC database could save more than $2 trillion in potential license fees.

The Global Innovation Commons essentially seeks to bring the advantages of the open-source software development model — open participation, faster innovation, greater reliability, cheaper costs — to technologies that are claimed to be patented.

In the Global Innovation Commons, hundreds of thousands of innovations have been assembled, which are either expired, no longer maintained (meaning that the fees to keep the patents in force have lapsed), disallowed, or unprotected in most, if not all, relevant markets.

This means that, as of right now, steps can be taken into a world full of possibilities, not road blocks. Whether it’s clean water for China or Sudan, or carbon-free energy — it’s likely to be in the GIC.

Martin argues that patents often serve to impede innovative technologies and make them unaffordable — at precisely the time when all countries of the world, rich and poor, need to adopt cutting-edge energy technologies to cut carbon emissions.

In touting "open innovation," Martin takes the tradition of free software and digital commons to exciting new frontiers. The Global Innovation Commons promises to spur a strong new wave of technological innovation through the sharing of new ideas rather than through exclusive, private control of them. As Martin puts it, "What we do is trawl documents for their true meaning. But what we care about are basic human issues. In this case, it's to show what belongs to the big guys and what belongs to society."

Which brings us to the real challenge and opportunity offered by climate change – that of the chance for Australia to evolve as a global leader in resource and energy innovation that benefits the whole society and not just a few large corporations. New energy technologies will play a substantial role in both the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

The urgency of the adjustment task shouldn’t be underestimated, and the change in incentives derived from carbon pricing can justify a large transitional increase in public support for innovation related to low-emissions technologies.

Fresh thinking, new business models, wiser leadership and continuous strategic innovation, are needed if Australia is to design and enact a low-carbon, steady state economy. The end point is not to undo industry but, on the contrary, to reinvent it as a viable force for sustainable living that comprises efficient practices and zero waste.

Clean-tech industries are a target for development under China’s next five year plan, and provide a major opportunity for Australia to leverage its expertise in green technology. China’s green energy market is estimated by investment funds such as Peony Capital, to be around $1 trillion.

Creating and developing global alliances in low-tech will not only assist Australia in improving its innovation performance; it will position Australia to reduce emissions for the larger polluters, such as China and India. 

The implications for Australia of this new approach to innovation are clear:

-  In every key environmental technology sector more patents are abandoned and expire into the public domain than from all currently enforced commercial platforms. The solutions for everything from distributed power, to fuel cells, to intelligent batteries, to wind, solar, water energy and purification, hydrogen fuel, and much more are available in the Open Source commons

-  Most of what we call invention and innovation is nothing of the kind. Most of it is incremental and serves only our current addiction to unsustainable growth

-  The majority of innovations today arise not from individual genius, but from networks. It is the fusion of contributors to these networks, linked to markets, which is the core of enterprise creation

-  Networked, open-source, innovation provides broad social and cultural benefits rather than just short-term unsustainable growth at any cost

-  Australia is well-placed to review government policies in order to liberate and recycle innovation. In doing so it could lead the world in developing a new innovation literacy - applying it directly to reconstruction following natural disasters.

David Martin, a partner in The Constellation, is speaking at an Australia21 national conference Innovation – Driving Resilient Energy and Economic Futures on Thursday 14 April 2011 at The Australian National University.

Hear an introductory video of Dr David Martin speaking about the Global Innovation Commons here.

Find further details and register for the Australia21 Conference Innovation – Driving Resilient Energy and Economic Futures, Australian National University, Thursday 14 April 2011, here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jigar Shar to present at Energy Futures Conference

Jigar Shar, CEO, Carbon War Room, is now confirmed to present at the upcoming Australia21 conference, via video link to Washington.
The Carbon War Room was formed to ‘harness the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change’, and was set up by Richard Branson, José María Figueres (former President, Costa Rica & CEO, World Economic Forum), and others.

Dr David Martin, Founder, Global Innovation Commons, USA will be presenting in person, along with John Hewson, Richard Hames, David Miles, Andrew Lawson, Will Steffen, Anna Skarbek, John White, Anthony Bergin, Tony Coleman, and others who will focus on the prosperity opportunities that climate change can bring to Australia.

Innovation – Driving Resilient Energy and Economic Futures a one-day conference will take place Thursday 14 April 2011 at ANU.  Further details here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Media release: Need for a resilience framework

Following is the text of a media release issued by Australia 21 on Saturday 12 March.

Billions of dollars at risk by not having a resilience framework

The recent Queensland floods and the terrible Japanese earthquake illustrate how major environmental disturbances can throw lives, infrastructure, and governments into chaos. How they recover is a sign of their resilience.

‘One thing we know’, says Prof Richard Hames, the newly appointed President of Australia21, ‘is that the future will surprise us. We don’t know how, or where or when.’

Pressure is mounting from the impacts of environmental and community upheaval from environmental turbulence.  ‘We don’t have to wait doing nothing until the next disaster strikes that would be foolish’.

‘A resilience framework will allow for a more considered approach to dealing with these issues,’ Prof Hames stressed.

There is an urgent need at federal, state, and local levels for a resilience policy framework to target investment for both human capital and infrastructure so as to optimise the recovery of communities and local economies.

There is a serious danger of undermining resilience by going back to the way we were and not proactively addressing resilience issues.

Prof Hames said we must ask the question how the Senate can pass the flood levy without a resilience framework.

Consideration of resilience and complex systems dynamics will increase our opportunities of finding durable solutions to natural disasters.

Building a more resilient nation will require developing resilience tools, such as strength and speed of feedback mechanisms, diversity of ideas and resources, and a strong capacity for self-organising.

Australia21 is hosting a national conference examining energy and economic futures through a resilience and innovation lens. The conference discussion will help shape the way we as a nation prepare for a climate change future.

The conference will be held at Australian National University – conference details at: -

For more information contact:

Prof Richard Hames - President, Australia21 - m) 0419 851 523
Dr Lynne Reeder – Executive Director, Australia21 - m) 0431 608 958 w) 02 6288 0823

Richard Hames takes the helm at Australia 21

Friday 10 March saw Australia 21 celebrate the tenth anniversary of its foundation with dinner in the Great Hall in University House at the Australian National University.

At a meeting of the Australia 21 Board during the day, Australia 21’s Foundation Chairman, Professor Emeritus Bob Douglas AO, stepped down from the Chair and was succeeded by Richard David Hames, who becomes the body’s first President.

In appreciation of his decade of service to Australia 21, the Board appointed Professor Douglas, who will remain on the Board, Founder Patron.

Richard David Hames is a corporate philosopher, author and knowledge designer. Working at the interface between organisations and society, he is widely considered to be among the world's most influential intellectuals and strategic futurists.

An Australian citizen, educated in Europe and domiciled in Thailand, Richard has been honoured with numerous awards including a French Government Scholarship, a Leverhulme European Fellowship, the Mondadori Professorial Fellowship and the inaugural Lord Attlee Fellowship.

Richard is Founder and Honorary President of The Hames Group (a globally distributed think-tank and strategic design laboratory); Director of Thoughtpost Edge; and Distinguished Professor and founding Director of the Asian Foresight Institute at Dhurakij Pundit University in Bangkok.

For more on Richard’s background and achievements, see here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Australia21 conference on energy and economic futures

Following on from its highly successful National Conference on Resilience in February last year, Australia21 will be convening another national conference at the Australian National University on 14 April, on the theme Innovation: Driving Resilient Energy and Economic Futures.

We have an outstanding speakers list – full details below. We hope we will see you there.

To register, visit our website here and click the registration button. There is a student concession, and an early bird discount for registrations received by 28 February.

14 APRIL 2011, ANU

‘At the centre of this Government’s approach to climate change is economic reform’  
‘Innovation is critical to our economic competitiveness’
The Hon Greg Combet, MP Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Nov 2010

Session One - 9.00-10.30am

Welcome Paul Barratt AO, Director, Australia21

Chair – Molly Harriss Olson NBLF

Dr David Martin, CEO, Founder and Chairman, M·CAM, Inc. (via Skype)
Topic - Intergenerational equity and Global Innovation Commons

Speaker Anna Skarbek, Executive Director, Climateworks Australia  
Topic – Curbing Climate Change and Sustaining Economic Growth

Speaker - Prof Richard Hames, Chair, Australia21
Topic – Innovation – a networked phenomenon

Session Two 11.00-12.30
Chair – Dr John Hewson, Chairman, Global DC

Panel SessionPolicy and Market Incentives & Impediments to innovation and commercialisation in energy businesses

Brendan Dow - Ceramic Fuel Cells (tbc)
Andrew Lawson- mbdEnergy (Biofuels)
Paul Verschuer – Carbon Markets, Westpac
Dr James Bradfield Moodie – CSIRO (invited)

Session Three – 1.30-3.00pm
Prof Mandy Thomas – PVC (Research) ANU

Topic - Innovation in carbon capture
Speaker: Dr John White

Topic – Community Engagement on Climate Change
Speaker- Prof Graeme Pearman  

Topic – Investing in innovation for low-carbon technologies
Speaker - David Miles, CEO, Innovation Australia

Session Four – 4.00pm- 5-00pm
Chair – Prof Bob Douglas, Director, Australia21

Topic - Implementing sustainable and inclusive solutions to climate change
Speaker - Prof Will Steffen, ANU

Topic – Communicating the policy impacts of climate change – recent insights
Speaker – tbc

Dinner Speaker

Australia 21 tenth anniversary dinner

This year is a very special one for Australia21 as we move into our tenth year of operation as an independent, non-profit organisation that facilitates multidisciplinary inquiry on issues of strategic importance in the 21st century.

In March Professor Bob Douglas, Inaugural Chair, A21 will step down and Professor Richard Hames will take over in that role.

To recognise these milestones Australia21 is holding a dinner on 11 March 2011 and we’d like to invite you to join us.

Prof Glyn Davis will give the keynote address on knowledge and innovation for Australia’s future, and accomplished Australian cellist David Pereira will present a recital of music inspired by our natural world.

It should be a wonderful night as Bob Douglas looks back over ten years - and Richard Hames looks forward – and you enjoy great music, food, drinks and inspired conversations.

Reserve your table by 21 February 2011 by completing the attached dinner form.

Date Friday 11 March 2011

Time 6.45 for 7.00pm-10.30pm

Venue Great Hall, Uni House, ANU

Cost Single $120; Couple $220; Table of 10 $1,100

RSVP Complete the attached form and return to -

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Vale Michael Ward

Australia 21 mourns the loss of one of its foundation directors, Michael Ward, who died in a hospice in Sydney in the early hours of New Year’s Day after a six year battle with cancer. 

Our feelings are best expressed in a message our Chairman, Bob Douglas sent yesterday to Directors past and present, to our research leaders and all the Australia 21 family:

Dear Australia 21 "Family"

I am saddened to pass on the enclosed report of the death of Michael Ward at 3:20 AM this morning. Michael was one of the six founding directors of Australia 21 in 2001. He has fought an amazingly determined fight against tonsil cancer for the past six years. 

Michael's contribution to Australia 21's development was immense. Always a provocative and at the same time, a constructive thinker, he brought to the discussions on the board a freshness and amazingly diverse experience from a career in public health, the Republican movement,  IT administration and CEO of an Eco-consulting firm. 

Michael's determined battle with cancer was the subject of a series of newsletters which he shared with his many  friends,  first entitled "the tumour times" and subsequently, "sacred times". 

In recognition of his stunning personal resilience, Australia 21 joined forces with The Menzies Institute at The University of Sydney during 2009 to hold the Michael Ward symposium on Health and Resilience.

We express our deep sympathy to Michael's two children, Irene and Max and to  his close family who have provided heartwarming  support during his nightmare illness.

We have lost a dear friend and colleague.

Bob Douglas
Board Chair

In spite of his great ordeal, Michael made the most of the hand that fate had dealt him.  He received visits from family and friends right up to the end, saw out the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, wished the staff who were looking after him so well a happy new year, and a few hours later passed away peacefully in his room.

We shall continue to miss him, his ever cheerful countenance, and his wise counsel.