Buvette Masthead

Canberra + Innovation = Reality?

Amanda Whitley

Canberra is changing. One only has to look at the shifting landscape of Lonsdale Street in Braddon, the development of lakeside precincts and the cultural hub of New Acton to know that. But it’s more than just bricks and mortar. It’s an attitude. We are a clever city. A creative and connected city. A town of thinkers, of doers.

Far from being our death knell, as was feared, the contraction of the Australian Public Service has seen the rise of our innovative entrepreneurial culture. The ACT has over 26,000 businesses, with the vast majority being micro and small, has the highest business formation and patent PC rate in Australia, and is a hotbed of youth entrepreneurism.

Now, in an Australian-first, a collaboration between five research organisations and the ACT Government will connect, promote and accelerate innovation in the ACT. The CBR Innovation Network (CBRIN), launched this morning, is a not for profit organisation, supported by the ACT Government with leadership from its five foundation partners: The Australian National University (ANU), University of Canberra (UC), National ICT Australia (NICTA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra). The broader innovation community is engaged through various avenues, including an Advisory Committee that will give input to strategic direction.


Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, launches the CBR Innovation Network this morning.

At the helm of CBRIN is CEO Dr. Sarah Pearson, who is excited by the mission ahead. “The ACT is uniquely positioned to transform its economy. No other city in Australia can boast such a strong collaboration between its major research & education institutions, coupled with a vibrant and engaged innovation community'” she says.

“We have all the ingredients needed to make our city a globally recognised economy driven by entrepreneurial and innovative companies.”

Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Innovation) at ANU, agrees, saying “CBRIN is an exciting opportunity for ANU to connect with the broader innovation community, to support the growth of innovation culture and capability, and is already helping connect start-ups with the support they need.”

Each of the five foundation partners see benefit in CBRIN, with Professor Frances Shannon, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research at the University of Canberra,  “looking to CBRIN as a collaborative approach to engaging students in entrepreneurship, as well as an opportunity to develop new industry sectors for the ACT”, while Dr Phil Robertson believes “NICTA is a natural foundation partner for the CBRIN, being based on collaborations between industry and researchers.”

From connecting ACT innovators into market supply chains to deliver innovative solutions and a thriving economy to fostering excellence in entrepreneurship and successful commercialisation, CBRIN will take a central role in growing the innovation ecosystem and diversifying the economy in the ACT. Key deliverables for the organisation include:

  • Providing a service connecting innovators and entrepreneurs to the support they need, both online and offline
  • Providing a supportive co-working space in collaboration with Entry 29
  • Supporting a business accelerator program with Griffin Accelerator
  • Developing an incubator program
  • Workshops, talks and events for capability building, connection, promotion and commercial solution development through open methods
  • Delivery of a business assistance service for small companies wishing to innovate and grow
  • Delivery of programs to support Youth and public servants wishing to start on the entrepreneurial journey; and
  • Promoting innovation in the ACT nationally and internationally, to attract funding, talent, and companies wishing to be part of the concentration of world-class expertise and entrepreneurship.

With Canberra’s unique concentration of education and research institutions, skilled people and multinational companies, CBRIN is seeking to integrate, align and expand diverse innovation activities. The future looks bright indeed.



Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Kevin

    This is EXACTLY what Canberra needs!

  • Super excited to have been there today, there’s a definite vibe for possibility and positive change. Canberra is coming into it’s own.

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