NSW could significantly increase technological innovation and new product development by creating beta-testing sites within NSW for university researchers.
Stoic Venture Capital Partner Dr Geoff Waring said technology innovation lifts employment while improving competitiveness of local companies at a global level.
“Creating a policy for beta-testing sites in NSW for university researchers would attract researchers, entrepreneurs, start-up companies, venture capital and multinationals to NSW,” Dr Waring said.
“It could also help to develop links between university research and industry as well as lead to the creation of new technology start-ups from the intellectual property developed at local universities.”
Dr Waring said NSW’s current procurement innovation stream for small and medium sized companies whereby contracts of up to $1 million may be awarded following successful proof of concept trial, does not currently meet the needs of university researchers who are at a very early level of development.
Many of NSW’s most difficult problems are beyond the technology capability of existing suppliers, so need unproven technology development, he said.
“These difficult problems include ecological conservation, the effects of climate change and pandemics. University researchers have a parallel problem proving their technology that works in the lab also works and is safe in use. Venture capital investors want to see a proof of concept before they invest. All these parties gain from a small-scale beta test.”
If the NSW Government shared more information with university researchers about the priority problems they faced and had a process to evaluate emerging technologies, the universities could bring to the government potential technologies that could be trialled on a small scale in NSW locations, he said.
Small pilot trials could be undertaken in a managed environment to minimise risk.
“There would need to be requirements around safety, data privacy and a minimum level of technology readiness according to the standardised benchmarks,” Dr Waring said. “Coming from a university would also give the science a high degree of legitimacy.”
This has similarities to the Federal Business Research and Innovation Initiative and Melbourne 5G IoT testbed and prototype street programs, Dr Waring said.
“This is an innovative approach that could assist researchers and investors to overcome information gaps that act as a barrier to financing while exploring solutions to city problems that are too difficult for existing providers.”