magic wand

News from the front desk, Issue 529: When we’re kids we call it magic. We believe if we want it strongly enough something in the ether will coagulate and become real.

We’re all grown up now. Instead of magic we use words like innovation, creativity, genius. But it’s the same thing. We want to make something much bigger than the sum of the individual parts we have at hand.

It’s the eternal driver of most entrepreneurs and all inventors.

In recent weeks we’ve seen people who have risked their day job on an idea that’s been richly rewarded: $1.7 billion paid by a European investor for the Melbourne based Message Media; $2 billion paid by a US company for A Cloud Guru; Altium, another software outfit actually feeling confident enough to reject a $5.05 billion takeover from Autodesk.

You might say these are lucky breaks and maybe they are. But generally, it’s not magic. There’s a formula at work, made up of ingredients that if correctly sourced and weighted, can yield great results.

As the philosophy students will tell you even creativity can by taught.

At Printed City, our event next event on Thursday 17 June, we turn the spotlight to finding out what the formula is for the creative invention we need to save this planet and stop it falling down the hot hole we’re heading towards.

We’re gathering a smattering of the people who could unlock the sticky friction points in finding that beautiful shape we’re calling the circular economy.

We’re starting with a panel of seven experts that represent inventors, risk takers, financiers, government agencies and end users.

But we need more. So the audience here has a big role. We call this kind of event a Surround Sound because the sound (or flash of intelligence) may come from anywhere in an activated crowd as its members interact with and challenge both the expert panel on stage and each other.

To create the right conditions we need people to loosen up, network, imbibe the refreshments, be curious. In this case our hosts and partner for the event BVN is putting on a great show with a team organising a walk through exhibition of robotics, 3D printing, and the SR2 air diffusion innovation from BVN and University of Technology Sydney that’s in prototype mode and ready to scale up. And which kicked off this whole idea.

Also on show will be the range of green ceramics from Professor Veena Sahajwalla who’s now pretty much a household name after her appearance on the ABC’s Australian Story.

Talking to the panellists over the past few weeks for the briefing ahead of the event has been a big inspiration –  so many people in this industry are already thinking hard about exactly these issues.

See our interview last week with Ninotscka Titchkosky BVN’ co-CEO and Tim Schork, associate professor School of Architecture, UTS  for a dive into how the SR2 came about.

From Toby Long, general manager, residential NSW for Mirvac, we will hear about his company’s embedded interest in quality and innovation. When Mirvac built Sydney Olympic Village, he says, it pretty much led the world in sustainability.

It’s a legacy he’s keen to see continued with the work the company’s now doing to incorporate Sahajwalla’s recycled products in its apartments. There’s also a venture fund working on other innovative ideas as well.

Long says the company’s learnings will benefit others.

From Lendlease’s Jehoen Son who’s head of development NSW we can expect to hear a nuanced understanding of what this property behemoth is thinking when it undertakes big urban renewal projects in terms of its interest in synergies and creating innovation zones with a strong focus on sustainability.

This is important because of its size and its ability to influence entire cities. Its development pipeline is reportedly worth more than a gobsmacking $110 billion in 17 “gateway” cities globally, and it has ambitions to be even bigger.

At Barangaroo for instance Son says that the public spaces are designed to stimulate and  enhance the broad commitments to environmental and social sustainability by providing plenty of opportunities to reinforce the thread of ideas. This ranges from physical elements such as creative retailers who might have been brought in from the fringe areas where rents are cheaper and experimentation can flourish, to building spaces that encourage engagement with others, such as restaurants, cafes and parks and where the “conversations” can continue.

Bringing it all together

How to pull together all the disparate elements that will make the ideal “formula” is a massive job. And there’s no better person to give it shape than Lisa McLean, chief executive officer of NSW Circular, a government agency established in recent times to work on that formula we need.

One of the programs she’s got underway is a series of task forces – including finance – to deal with the major components of the circular economy.

Finance, now that’s important. Perhaps the most important.

So now we’re heading off to interview the next panellist for the event, James Tayler head of ESG Ellerston Capital.

See you on the night!

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