If we are to solve the unprecedented range and scale of global challenges confronting us, we need to get cutting edge “Deep Tech” innovation out of the lab and into the world faster.
Organisations big and small will have to work together in complementary ways to create Exponential Organisations which can rapidly scale technical innovations to have an impact.
We believe that entrepreneurship is key to this, and recent work we’re doing is giving us confidence that we’re on the right track.
We’re incredibly excited.
StartupScience®, Meet Science
Since Pollenizer started in 2008, we’ve seen thousands of early-stage businesses in sectors like media, retail, social and enterprise software. In the process of helping these companies find their way, we’ve developed StartupScience®, our methodology for creating new growth. It guides them to learn faster with less capital risk through a lean, experimental approach which unerringly discovers whether a problem and its potential solutions have any real-world value.
Recently, in the DataStart program we led for the Prime Minister and Cabinet, in the On Accelerator Program we’ve been running for Australia’s CSIRO, and in the Energy.XO program we’ve run for Horizon Power, we’ve discovered that StartupScience® can also have a big impact on ‘Deep Tech’ solutions for big, global problems and ‘Exponential-scale’ opportunities.
Exponential Organisations (XOs) in Deep Tech
It’s a big world out there, 7.4 billion people by last counting, and in 2016 we’re finally coming to terms with some huge and scary global problems: climate change, water and food quality, disease, ageing and new pandemics, education, energy, pollution, land-degradation and waste.
Through our technological ingenuity, we’ve improved human life beyond recognition. And at the same time, created a lot of these problems for ourselves. In his remarkable book The Zero Marginal Cost Economy, author Jeremy Rifkin relates how relatively minor improvements in steam engine efficiency, achieved by James Watt, went on to trigger an avalanche of massive social and environmental changes. This in turn ushered in the industrial era, which has utterly transformed every aspect of human life since.
Fast forward to 2016, and equally world-changing inventions like the power grid, electric light, the car, radio and television, jet engines, the computer, the genome, the internet – and of course the mobile phone in your pocket – are being joined by new, and arguably even more profound technological breakthroughs: blockchain (unlocking trust), quantum computing (orders-of-magnitude faster processing), machine learning (automated classification & prediction), autonomy (robots in the wild), additive manufacturing (printing… everything).
XOs and Australia
Australia has made a huge investment in engineering and science research over the decades, and every year we graduate tens of thousands of highly talented STEM students.
We have groundbreaking work happening in our universities and research labs, in areas as diverse as 3D-assisted surgery, universal manufacturing robots, sensor networks and sensors attached to everything to reduce waste, ways to make crops and livestock more sustainable for the environment, ways to accelerate vaccine production… the list goes on and on.
Yet according to the WTO, we’re 81st in the world when it comes to commercializing our ideas. Many other countries around our region – and indeed the world – are similarly struggling to get amazing deep tech ideas out of the lab and into the world where they can have impact.
So we’ve decided to start using StartupScience® in realms where traditionally only big companies, big institutions and governments have held sway to accelerate people and ideas.
And create Exponential Organisations.
For most of the world’s population, centralised ‘broadcast-style’ energy generation and distribution via massive power stations, towers and electricity lines results in electricity which is actually too expensive for most people without massive government subsidies. Instead, we’re seeing a world emerge where smart microgrids using solar PV + batteries link together into regional networks in a way that’s more akin to the way the internet operates. In this world, the cost of energy could drop by more than 10x, a truly exponential step change.
To test this hypothesis, we’ve partnered with Horizon Power to find entrepreneurs who can discover new business models for a world where solar PV + batteries and microgrids rule. Watch how we brought Horizon – a big company looking for new growth – together with founders who need access to infrastructure – to find four founders who are now heading into incubation:
While Australia’s health system is the envy of the world, it faces huge affordability challenges. We need a new, entrepreneurial innovation system to unlock the enormous investments in talent and knowledge that we’ve made to create a more sustainable health system which can deliver even better care and quality of life for people at all stages of life and wellness, and do so worldwide at exponential scale. To help achieve this, we’re getting set to launch an event series and a taskforce examining breakthroughs in Health Tech – breakthroughs which can not only heal the sick better, but also prevent illness entirely – and do so for billions of people. We aim to explore new ways to reduce the rapidly ballooning costs of healthcare; to discover truly personalised medicine which takes account of our unique DNA profile and living physiology; to understand the needs of new generations of ageing people who want to live rich, fulfilling lives well into their 90s. We want to help ground-breaking Australian medical R&D get commercialised faster, so it can help more people and change more lives for the better worldwide.
The global space industry is predicted to grow to $1Tn per annum by 2030, with NASA avowing to leave Low Earth Orbit to commercial operators. Sensors in space promise a torrent of information for applications to tackle huge problems in water quality, precision agriculture, smart cities, disaster response, transport management, security – and let’s not forget – space itself. Early signs of an ultra-high-value in-space economy are emerging around private space-stations, zero-gravity manufacturing, and deep-space mining.
We’re partnering with the Delta-V SpaceHub who bring specialist knowledge of the emerging NewSpace ecosystem in the AsiaPacific region plus relationships with Space businesses and agencies large & small working in avionics, systems, mission design, STEM education, and more.
With Australia responsible for 1/7th of the Earth’s surface and 1/6th of its air space, and with a unique Southern Hemisphere location in close proximity to the world’s fastest growing economies with some of the biggest problems to solve, we believe its time to start creating Exponential Organisations working in space.
Agriculture, aquaculture, distribution, preservation, provenance, even presentation – no other area touches our physical beings as much as food (except perhaps Air!) – and few other areas consume as much of the world’s resources, threaten its biodiversity, and could transform (for better or worse) our health and well-being.
Let’s Solve Big, Scary Problems Together
Exponential Organisations begin as startups who have identified both big problems, and scalable technological or business-model insights and breakthrough ideas that just might solve them.
Testing these new ideas in real world conditions, pivoting around the learnings gained, and driving hard to validate the ability to quickly scale solutions to markets worldwide: these are the entrepreneurial qualities we’re looking to uncover and nurture within the communities of interest who are beginning to tackle problems in energy, health, food, space and more.
Join Our XO Network !
We need big companies looking for new growth, who have infrastructure and smarts they’re willing to share with startup founders, and who believe entrepreneurship is a critical key to unlocking market value for new ideas.
And we need founders and in/entrepreneurs who want to take on big, global problems, test their ideas with entire vertical ecosystems, pivot towards market value, and scale exponentially.