It is time to leapfrog the world and put Australia at the front of the pack

Pollen was established to challenge the norms of consultancy, bring new ways of working to clients and engaging with them on a new level.

With our sector focus and belief that value chains can be transformed through collaboration and technology it is our vision that together with our clients we can step change the food and beverage sector, moving from a sector that lags to one that leads on innovation across the entire value chain.

In June Cornell University, the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organisation, and Insead released their annual Global Innovation Index report. Australia has slipped several notches on measures of innovation development in the past year, falling four places to 23rd spot on a prominent global index. . Its rankings are based on an analysis of a country’s “inputs” into the innovation sector – such as “institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication and business sophistication” — and “outputs” from the startup industry, measured on knowledge and technology and creative metrics.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to position Australia as the ‘Innovation Nation’, and in some sectors, such as mining and financial services we hear of incubators, accelerator programmes and start hubs as common language, meaning perhaps we are making progress.

The Australian market is often known for lagging behind in the food retail world, with many sat on their hands awaiting the arrival of Amazon (and whole foods) or heading to Europe to find the latest trend or technology to bring back to Australia.

The first problem is whenever we hear about innovation in FMCG it is about the product that is purchased in the supermarket, the new idea the great looking innovation on the shelf. Not the things that could be happening behind the scenes in the supply chain to get that product to the shelf safely and efficiently, or the things in the store than reduce operating costs. We always want to talk about sexy.

Coming back to the mining example, Australia is not only a mining centre but also equipment and technology service centre, where the combined industries are known as METS. METS businesses have a turnover of $90 billion, they export goods and services worth $15 billion and represent 21.7 per cent of the national job market.

FMCG, like mining is a global market place, and Australian companies are challenged with higher input costs such as wages, fuel and imported raw material costs compared to their global competitors. Not to mention the scale of the country versus the population. Which makes it possible the best test bed for innovation globally.

With its own unique challenges such as a duopoly of two main retailers and 7.692 million km² shared between only 24.13 million people, if a product can work, a technology can succeed and collaboration can occur in Australia it is most likely it could be replicated globally.

Together we need to be drawing inspiration from other sectors for innovative ideas that can be applied to the food and beverage sector, across products and supply chains. To do this we need to jump the international market place, stop lagging and get out ahead. It is our belief with the right headwinds, focus and collaboration Australia could be seen by the world as the place to look for innovation and a test bed for technology and products alike.

At Pollen with have ambitious plans about what 2025 look like if we got started today……If you would like to hear more contact us about our Breakfast event on 1st June 2018.