Creating a local innovation system



ASPIRE supports manufacturing companies concerned about waste disposal costs and broader environmental issues by providing an online platform and offline program to engage existing business networks facilitated by local government economic development or sustainability officers.  

The online matchmaking tool captures data around waste created by manufacturers or of interest to local recyclers, by providing tailored information on partnerships for potential waste exchanges.  Pooling information across the business networks enables more and better matches, and the data required to identify opportunities for business to innovate in industrial ecology.

Operating as a proof of concept since 2015, CSIRO partnered with Cities of Kingston, Knox, Dandenong and Hume Councils in Victoria.  Now in a one year pilot, ASPIRE is adding other interested councils, and the Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, to understand how the program can operate successfully in rural and regional areas.  

More than 100 businesses have registered with the program, with 12 waste exchanges saving $200,000 for business and diverting over 1000 tonnes of waste from landfill. Case studies from exchanges are made publically available, to enable other businesses to learn from participants’ experience.

Key learnings from the program include the need to consider the attention of business operators as the limiting resource, requiring careful targeting both in useability of the online tool, and ensuring that it is embedded in an off-line support network. Personal relationships, between businesses and with local government facilitators, are critical to the establishment of a successful innovation network.

Image: Obsolete computers and cables from the education sector ready for re-processing or recycling.

More case studies

City of Whittlesea: Raspberry Pi computers+-

Council’s Intelligent Community Strategy identifies the importance of facilitating its community to take advantage of the significant open access broadband network available.

To support the delivery of its STEM program, Council worked with Thomastown West Primary School to assist the teaching of computer coding to students using Raspberry Pi computers.

Council sourced electronic waste (monitors, keyboards, mouse, etc) and recycled them to provide computing facilities for the students to learn coding. Each week, more than 30 Grade 3 and 4 students across five schools assemble the small computers using old monitors, keyboards and mice donated by La Trobe University.

Building a computer from scratch has helped the children understand how computers work and what hardware components are needed to build them. This understanding complements the computer coding classes, making coding lessons more real for the children. The students always comment, “I can't believe it's so small” or “Can we keep it at the end of term?”

The Raspberry Pi computer operates using free and open source software for the operating system and individual software packages. The package was designed to give students a deeper understanding of computers to help strengthen their education and employment prospects in the future.

Computers are expensive, whereas a Raspberry Pi computer can be assembled for less than $100. A whole classroom of computers with 11 workstations costs less than $1500. Other schools are already interested in this coding platform and the intention is to gradually expand this program to other nearby schools.

Teaching STEM subjects to children will help build the smart communities of tomorrow. Small and low cost Raspberry Pi computers are proving to be an efficient way of delivering this to communities.

The school work has been complemented with a computer and robotics club established at the local library on a Monday night. The work in schools is fostering the students’ interest in technology and preparing them for the emerging jobs in robotics and artificial intelligence.

City of Perth: +-

The City of Perth’s smart city journey began as one of 16 global cities nominated as an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge recipient in 2014. Five senior IBM executives worked with the city to deliver recommendations aimed to future proof Perth for development and economic outcomes.

A key recommendation was to engage the city’s thought leaders. In response, the city has actively supported the local innovation and startup technology sector to drive the ongoing development and engagement of Perth’s Smart City platform.

The city is using smart technology to capitalise on the economic opportunities the sector can offer and, as noted by the Startup WA ecosystem report, technology startups have increased 235 percent in two years, with one third of all Western Australian startups located within the city.

Perth has developed the full spectrum of the local innovation ecosystem including sponsoring events such as the WWW Conference, West Tech Fest and OzApp awards. Accelerators supported include Unearthed and Founder Institute as well as coworking environments such as StudioStartUp and Spacecubed. The investment side of the ecosystem has also been supported by sponsoring the Perth Angels Investment Masterclasses.

As the city expands its smart city platform, currently comprising of an extensive fibre and CCTV network, free public Wi-Fi, live parking availability applications, cyclist counters, 3D City modelling and data / business information projects, it is engaging with new partners including the Curtin University CISCO Internet of Everything Innovation Centre to progress exciting initiatives such as machine learning applications to the urban environment.

Digital cycle counter: The Eco Counter captures daily cyclists in the cycle lane travelling in both directions, and provides cumulative year-to-date bike counts, which are displayed on the live screens.

Ipswich City Council: Firestation 101+-

Fire Station 101, which began in March 2016, provides education, mentoring and access to sources of potential funding.

Fire Station 101 leverages the diversity of its members while focusing on themes emerging in the community.  Local members and founders also share roles as mentors to other mentors, including areas of legal, video production, business management, entrepreneurial leadership development, game development, software application development, and 3D printing.

This collaboration is focused on the main themes of virtual reality, smart city (IoT, open data, big data analytics), and social enterprise (addressing community challenges through scalable and sustainable solutions).

Since March 2016, Fire Station 101 has demonstrated its capabilities to generate local digitally-focused jobs through new company formation. After just nine months of operation, 64 startups had become members, with an acquisition rate of 1-2 members per week. These members are all startup entrepreneurs at various stages, from pre-revenue to securing capital for global scale-up.

They are working across technologies such as virtual reality / augmented reality, smart city / internet of things and social entrepreneurship and other related areas.