Australia Week

Most people following SNS know that I picked Australia several years ago as a future source of economic growth and success, and this has worked out exactly right so far.  Since then, I have joined the Australia American Leadership Dialogue, and met with PM Kevin Rudd, Deputy PM Julia Gillard, and most of the current cabinet, as well as quite a few top business leaders, courtesy of AALD founder Phil Scanlan, now the Consul General in New York.

On Wednesday, I’ve agreed to speak at, and moderate, part of a larger event.  For the last seven years, the Australian government has sponsored Australia Week in the United States, which showcases the country’s culture, business, food and fashion — in addition to showing off some of its brightest celebrities.

As part of that celebration, the Aussies took it a step further in 2007, when they started inviting the country’s most promising new technology startups to compete in California for venture cash to break into the U.S. market.  It’s called the Innovation Shootout. Select companies will appear at the Microsoft HQ in Mountain View and do a business model competition before a jury (I am the MC, a judge and speaker), who will vote for the winning company.

The panel of judges includes: Deborah Magid, of IBM Venture Capital Group; Allison Leopold Tilley, of Pillsbury; and Chris Shipley, of Guidewire. Microsoft’s Dan’l Lewin will be there as host, and one would guess many others.

This year, we will be taking a look at companies providing physical surveillance and IT security systems; solar-energy tech; emissions assessment and reduction systems; and labor management software.

Australia is increasingly seen as one of the most pro-innovation environments, where government and industry work closely in tandem to position themselves globally – as in the passage, and implementation of, the National Broadband Network – a project that seems to have inspired the Obama administration.  Perhaps the US will finally get its own broadband policy and initiative, thanks to our friends from Down Under.