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In Focus: Rob Shannon, Associate Director of Innovation at UWA

University of Western Australia_GoogleUniversity of Western Australia_Google

Western Australia, a state traditionally focused on the natural resources sector, is ideally placed to become a key player in the global tech industry.

"The WA mindset and culture is unique, the isolation and beautiful physical environment lends itself to thinking differently.  Thinking differently equals innovation."

In order to reach its full potential, substantial efforts are required from entrepreneurs, investors, universities and government to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and technology innovation in Western Australia.

Rob Shannon, Associate Director of Innovation at University of Western Australia (UWA) tells us how the world-class university is fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in its researchers and students and collaborating with industry to encourage innovation in the state.

What does innovation mean to you?

Problem / solution fit, ideas in action and customer traction…

How does UWA foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Western Australia?

Game-changing ideas happen when people with different backgrounds, perspectives and expertise come together. UWA is a hot-bed of ideas, networks and creative talent. We’re empowering our researchers and students to collaborate with industry through new spaces, courses, programs and pathways.

Are you involved in any exciting projects at the moment? 

Always!  Hardwiring entrepreneurship into UWA’s undergraduate degrees, rejuvenating our Masonic Hall into a brand new co-working and office space for graduate entrepreneurs, and planning a celebration of WA innovators, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

What’s the most interesting innovation that you’ve come across in WA over the last couple of years?

This is a hard one! Veri Vote – a UWA student start up strengthening democracy through block chain technology.  A great team and a great idea competing to solve a global challenge of democracy in the digital age.

What trends do you currently see on WA’s science and technology scene?

A strong shift in the innovation mindset, higher engagement in innovation education programs and accelerators, and ground-breaking new ideas making an impact through research commercialisation.

Five years from now, what innovation would you wish to see in WA that is currently not there?

A new space capability and innovations stemming from the world leading Square Kilometre Array expertise in radio astronomy. 

Why should WA businesses collaborate with universities when it comes to innovation? 

Collaboration with UWA researchers and students allows WA businesses to access cutting-edge thinking and tackle hard-to-solve problems. Our teams bring a unique perspective which can stimulate creative thinking and innovation. Universities have smart people, great infrastructure, capabilities and assets that can be an extension of the business…that and plenty of ways to leverage funding to get more research bang for your buck!

Where do you think overseas businesses can add value to the WA tech scene?

An open and welcoming door to unique collaborations that present pathways to international markets, accelerating and supporting growth, and global mutually-beneficial impact.

What makes WA stand out from other Australian states when it comes to innovation?

The WA mindset and culture is unique, the isolation and beautiful physical environment lends itself to thinking differently. Thinking differently equals innovation.

Any other thoughts?

Too many to mention…the scene is growing and changing at a rapid rate – everyone should be thinking start-up.

To find out more about innovation at UWA visit www.innovation.uwa.edu.au or email rob.shannon@uwa.edu.au

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