Sometime ago I read an article in The Australian Financial Review titled Entrepreneurs are innovation’s essential agreement. Chris Golis was also interviewed on ABC Radio’s Counterpoint programme. Chris makes some interesting points on the state of entrepreneurship in Australia and calls for the creation of an “Institute for Entrepreneurship” to foster “an entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Australia. He asks why Australia, “being a country that produces 3 per cent of the world’s scientific research, has not been able to build an equivalent to Silicon Valley?” He answers, “Australia does have the equivalent to Silicon Valley: it is based in Perth and centred on the mining industry.”
He says that Perth was able to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is a community where,
“instead of corporate hierarchies, there is promotion of entrepreneurship, availability of venture capital, collective learning through trial and error, horizontal sharing of information, and a passion for experimentation. Typically careers are specialised, flexible, and likely to span across many different companies.”
I caught up with Chris yesterday over coffee to discuss his ideas and to gain an insight into venture capitalism. It was a good meeting and got me thinking about some ideas. He gave some practical advice to some of the ventures I am involved in.
The Federal government released its Powering Ideas report last year. And Chris says that though “innovation” is mentioned 525 times, “entrepreneur” is only mentioned once. Chris believes in the importance and value of the entrepreneur and frequently quotes Professor Ian MacMillan of Wharton Business School:
“There is no question that irrespective of the horse (the business), the race (the market) or the odds (the valuation), it is the jockey (the entrepreneur) who fundamentally determines whether the venture capitalist will place a bet at all.”