Hello and welcome to a brand new season of Welcome to Day One. The podcast for regional startups & the organisations that support Australian entrepreneurship. Welcome to Day One is brought to you by the City of Newcastle’s brand new innovation platform, Newihub. To learn more and to sign up for a free account, click the link in today’s show notes or simply go to newihub.com

Today is a special episode titled Innovation in Newy, the goal of today’s episode is to understand what innovation is and take a brief look at where Newcastle has come from and where it’s heading.

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Aaron: I think Newcastle is a place that has been in flux in a wonderful way for a while. And in some ways, there is a cultural conflict to that. 

I used to work for the university for a while and I saw it when I was working there that we were the sort of internationalists who were really trying to drive this idea of Newcastle as a very progressive global place.

But of course, places in flux, have two sides to them. And the other side to that of course is the flip side to that. There’s an old guard in Newcastle that would very much like things to not move forward. Thank you very much. And you tend to have to be either one or the other. 


Adam: Hello and welcome to a brand new season of  Welcome to Day One. The podcast for regional startups & the organisations that support Australian entrepreneurship. Welcome to Day One is brought to you by the City of Newcastle’s brand new innovation platform, Newihub. To learn more and to sign up for a free account, click the link in today’s show notes or simply go to newihub.com

Today is a special episode titled Innovation in Newy, the goal of today’s episode is to understand what innovation is and take a brief look at where Newcastle has come from and where it’s heading.

You just heard from…

Aaron: Aaron Darc, I’m the Digital Marketing Lead for the City of Newcastle. 

Adam: The reason why we are starting this episode here is that Aaron’s point of view of all the people that I interviewed uniquely expressed a conflict and any good story needs a conflict. The conflict between an old way of thinking and a new way of thinking. 

Aaron: I guess the first time I left Newcastle was because as a young gay man in the nineties I didn’t feel welcomed here.

And so I felt driven out. And so it’s been interesting because I see Newcastle become more and more diverse and more and more inclusive and grow further and further away from that place that I felt I couldn’t stay in.

Newcastle has changed and is still changing. Not only in terms of becoming a more inclusive society for everybody but also becoming more forward-thinking in other ways, from building smart liveable cities to looking to the future with innovation and transforming our industries and economy. 

Corinne:  I’ve been around since Twitter first came out in 2009 and it’s been great to actually see the transition to a very Digi-city.  We don’t want the brain drain of our children to move away from Newcastle, to go to Sydney. We want to be able to provide a good, clean, innovative area for our community and our families to live in.

Adam: The adoption of what Corinne called a Digi-city is a stark contrast to Newcastle’s roots of steel and coal and as Nathaniel  Bavinton, the Innovation & Futures manager for the City of Newcastle, points out Newcastle is a leader in transitioning from an old economy to the new advanced economies of Australia and has a big part to play.

Nathaniel: We are probably Australia’s most successful post-industrial city. A city that has successfully navigated that move from, you know, a heavy kind of primary industry base. You know, it’s not common knowledge that health and education are our major employers. So we’ve made that transition. So it’s about a services economy, a knowledge economy, and that is the future of advanced economies like Australia. And Newcastle has got an amazing part to play in that, and it’s for an unexpected reason because the growth industries are ones that require engineering, manufacturing, but not in the old way, new ideas about manufacturing.

Adam: So Newcastle is moving forward, we’ve established whereas a city we’ve come from, from primary industries, and where we’re heading to, Digi-cities built upon advanced economies, like knowledge and services economies, and those new ideas and therefore innovation is essential to our progression and growth. 

So what exactly is innovation?

Alex: I think it’s a flashy term. I feel like people use it a lot, without knowing what it means. I feel like it’s a buzzword. Am I allowed to say that? 

Adam: That’s Alex Morris. During the most recent Compass IQ event, which is an annual 4 part series for people who are interesting in shaping the future of Newcastle and the Hunter. I had the opportunity to speak to a number of members from the community, both within and outside of the innovation, business community and inside and outside council to hear what they thought innovation was. So is that all innovation is? A buzz word? 

Alex: No, it is a great term. It is a great term, but I think if you’re going to use it, do it right. It’s kind of like the word pivot, right? During 2020, everyone used the word pivot and it almost lost its significance. You know you want to, if you’re going to use the word innovation, let’s make sure it’s frigging powerful and it’s changing things.

Gabriella: I’ve actually just completed a degree in innovation entrepreneurship, and a lot of the literature on this doesn’t actually agree on what innovation is, so on that basis, to me, innovation is about change and improvement. Assuming you do it correctly, and growth. So just about trying to make things better and going through the process, the innovation process of actually making that happen.

James: I think of innovation in terms of process and innovation is looking at a process and making it more efficient.

People think that innovation is tech. And it’s not. Innovation is figuring out a way to make that process cheaper, faster, and better. That process can be anything.

And I would like to see that the way that we approach innovation is more about smart people rather than tech ideas. 

Aaron: I think innovation is the development of solutions to problems that haven’t previously existed.  

Oliver: I’d say it’s when someone does something new or something different generally in some kind of business sense I guess, taking a new angle on something. 

Emily Davies O’Sullivan: I think innovation is about developing new ideas or concepts to do amazing things, basically to solve a problem primarily.

Rhett: The fundamental thing is that you’re challenging what is and finding new ways. It could be new products or services. It could be new business models. It’s very broad what it is but the idea is it’s new, but that’s the fundamental that’s the root of it. 

Ryan: I think innovation often gets talked about as the big idea or something massive that we’re going to move towards, but I actually think it’s the taking the first step in the direction of something better.

Daniel: Innovation is the ability to solve problems in ways that people haven’t thought of before.

Steven: To me innovation is creating something brand new. Really pushing the boundaries of what exists. To me, it’s super exciting because I think that’s how society progresses, through innovation.

John: Innovation starts with a great idea that has meaning in the world, I suppose.

I think innovation is already a central part of the culture up here in Newcastle.

What I’d really like to see is the businesses that are in the innovation space, promoting their capabilities, as opposed to promoting where they are.  

Nathaniel: Innovation has a definition that is around productive processes, right? So you’ve got all the inputs of how things are produced in a society and innovation is the part that is able to be expanded infinitely. You know, say I invent a hammer, there’s only one hammer; I can use the hammer or you can use a hammer, but the idea of the hammer, we can all use the idea of the hammer simultaneously. Right? So ideas expand and proliferate in a way that physical assets do not. Right. So innovation is literally the way that productivity and wellbeing and the way that the community can benefit its people, that’s how it improves. Better ideas, new ideas shared, ideas implemented. 

Adam: I wish I was able to have more voices in this episode. Did you agree with our featured guests today? Do you have another perspective on innovation? I want to hear from more people and potentially include your thoughts in today’s episode. On the night that I captured these answers the theme of the event was inclusive innovation and on that note I really want to be able to do that subject justice by including more voices in this episode, more perspectives, so if you’re listening and you have something to add, please get in touch. 

Corinne: It’s just great that we actually get the opportunity to say something like this. I think it’s important for the community to have their say, and to consult council.  Particularly when there are certain exhibitions and opportunities. Because at the end of the day, we’re here for the community and we want your opinions and your feedback. Otherwise, it’s going to be a certain minority of people with certain ideals. We want a good cross-section of the community.

Aaron: So it can’t just be privileged people with the power and the networks to change and that, it has to be across the spectrum. So I think when you talk about inclusive innovation, I think it’s recognising that everybody has to have the opportunity to innovate and to instigate, that change can’t just be happening at the top.

Adam: Thank you to everyone who took the time to sit down with me and talk about innovation. Those people are as follows in no particular order.

Steven: I’m Steven Hudson.

Corinne: Hi, my name’s Corinne Paterson. 

Gabriella: I’m Gabriella Moaghan.

John: I’m John Lancken 

Oliver: I’m Oliver Gaywood.

Alex:  I’m Alex Morris I’m a freelance writer. 

Emily Davies O’Sullivan: My name’s Emily Davies O’Sullivan. 

James: Hi, my name is James Vidler.

Nathaniel: My name is Nathaniel Bavinton.

Daniel: My name is Daniel Smith.

Rhett: I’m Rhett Morson.

Ryan: I’m Ryan McPherson.

Steven: To Newcastle, I think it’s an exciting hotbed for, it’s, it’s got all the prerequisites for great innovation. I think there’s a good acceptance of trying new things in Newcastle.

Adam: Thanks for listening to this special episode of Welcome to Day One. Coming up on the new season are 5 startups. Hone, Social Pinpoint, Deckee, Stackla and next week Ryan MacPherson from Coassemble.

Ryan: I think if you look at the online training space or e-learning space it’s kind of like websites probably 10, 10, 12 years ago. So there’s a lot of what I would call large cumbersome platforms that are kind of put in the hands of, you know, agile team members and there’s just not a good product fit for what they’re trying to achieve in their business.

I’m Ryan McPherson, co-founder and CEO at Coassemble, an online business coming out of Newcastle, revolutionizing the online training game for small to medium businesses. 

Adam: If you enjoyed the show, then I invite you to help us continue to tell these stories and supporting Australian Startups by pledging your support at Patreon. You can do that by going to welcometodayone.com/patreon.

Thank you for giving this episode of Welcome to Day One your attention. This story is a production of W2D1 Media

A big thank you to The City of Newcastle. Their new program, Newihub is our major sponsor and I’d just like to take a second to express my gratitude for their support. Newihub is a great new initiative from the team at the City of Newcastle. It’s an online community to keep up to date with what’s happening in our region from an innovation perspective and a hub of great resources. I encourage you to check it out and sign up to be a free member. 

You can learn more by clicking the link in today’s episode notes at welcometodayone.com or by going to newihub.com.

The script was written by me.

Music by Lee Rosevere, full attribution on our website welcometodayone.com.

This episode was produced by me, Adam Spencer and edited by Natalie Holland.




Special Thanks

Thank you to all of the guests who were featured in todays episode. They are as follows and are in no particular order.

  • James Vidler
  • Nathaniel Bavinton
  • Gabriella Moaghan
  • John Lancken
  • Oliver Gaywood
  • Alex Morris
  • Aaron Darc
  • Corinne Paterson
  • Daniel Smith
  • Emily Davies O’Sullivan
  • Rhett Morson
  • Ryan MacPherson
  • Steven Hodgson