Archive for the ‘Collaboration & connectivity’ Category

Global Shared Value – a view from Down Under

June 12, 2013

A former Sydney financier, Phil Preston, was in Canberra yesterday (11 June 2013) to brief federal agencies on Global Shared Value. We had a coffee before the session, and Phil explained all about his interest in the power of collaboration, and where he wants to head with this – he can be contacted at

Phil penned the following article while in Boston last month at a workshop with Professor Michael Porter et al.

“I’m sitting in my hotel room, looking out a heavy clouds on the Boston horizon, at the end of four days of intensive work discussing shared value implementation with companies and practitioners from all around the world, including Colombia, India, Philippines, Canada, Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, US, UK, Costa Rica, Mexico, Korea, Japan and Chile.

We rubbed shoulders with the likes of Harvard’s Professor Michael Porter, Mark Kramer of FSG and the Chairman of Nestle, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is a pivotal moment in the development of this field – you may like to refer to or this article of mine that Porter re-tweeted last year, if the topic is quite new to you.

It’s impossible to summarise everything in one go, but here’s three big take-aways for the business, government and the NGO sectors:

1. Meaning

For a business to have real purpose and be resilient to future shocks, it helps to identify it’s role in improving society. This approach underpins sustained profitability; if profitability is the primary short-term goal, then there is a risk that the business model fails overnight.

Nestle adopted “shared value” as a formal strategic initiative in 2006; however Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe remarked that shared value is now the strategy. It has transformed from being a food and beverage company to one that seeks to improve nutrition, access to water and develop rural economies. Nike was once a footwear company, it now sees itself as a health and well-being player. Thermo-Fisher saw itself as a scientific company, it now sees its role as building a healthier and safer world.

On my table at the global summit, four companies talk about their evolution in the way that they define their purpose. They were all at different stages – for different reasons – and still had some way to go, but the point is that they were all conscious of the need to bring clarity.

2. Measurement

How do we measure if and when shared value is created? There are two sets of indicators that need to be present: those that prove business value and those that evidence social value. This is not always easy and sometimes proxies are required.

Novo Nordisk sells diabetes-related products and has a strong presence in China. It estimates that it has improved patient life years of those who use its products and services by 80%, while increasing its market share from below 40% to 63% in the second largest insulin market in the world. The strategy was underpinned by physician training and patient education.

We will hear a lot more about measurement in years to come and the Shared Value Initiative provides a community of practice to develop expertise and serve as a repository for case studies.

3. Momentum

The global summit started two years ago and the first meeting was a small collective of North American businesses. This year, 225 places were filled and many were turned away. The companies in the room were very large, significant and mostly multi-national players. But not just that, we saw great representation from the NGO, development agency and government sectors. If you want to dispel any myths about the quality of management in the non-business sectors, tap into what Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, Neal Keny-Guyer of Mercy Corps or Peter Singer from Grand Challenges Canada are doing and saying in this space. By the end of it, our heads were spinning.

It has become a truly global, cross-sector conversation. Where NGOs were once adversaries of business, they are now becoming partners. This is not because they have traded their values or mission, it is because they have come to the realisation that philanthropy is not enough; if we want to make real change in the world, the power of business is required in order to do what it does best: bring innovation and scale to the real needs in our society.

Where to from here?

Implementing shared value is a process of internal challenge and discovery. As yet there is no prescriptive rule book, but there are principles and processes that we can use to evaluate the core assets, needs and challenges of any business, find where the key social intersection points exist and create strategies that drive financial results for business and positive impact for society.

All I can say is that I love being a part of the evolution of this discipline

Sydney’s new entrepreneurial hub

May 30, 2012

The City of Sydney opened a creative and cultural hub for entrepreneurs at 66 Oxford Street in February 2012.

Sixteen tenants including tech start-up AroundYou moved in and the co-working space has been such a success that Moore is converting two other buildings on William Street to create more space for start-ups.

“People started collaborating almost as soon as they moved in, it was quite remarkable to walk around the building and hear their stories,” said Mayor Clover Moore, adding she was taking expressions of interest for the William Street property.

She said start-ups needed affordable space, advice, encouragement and support, but the biggest challenge was finance. A lack of venture capital is forcing Australian talent to go offshore.

To that end Moore said she had asked her staff to “look at ways the city could act as a broker or blind date some of these venture capitalists with start-ups”.

City of Sydney is following the lead of other co-working spaces such as Fishburners, which opened in April last year in a building in Ultimo and filled up with 60 entrepreneurs within six weeks.

“There’s a real groundswell of start-up activity in the tech sector at the moment and that’s attributed partly to just how cheap it is to start a tech business these days,” said Fishburners director David Vandenberg.

Cockatoo’s view is that there’s nothing new here – it is a business incubator pure and simple. Indeed Sydney entrepreneur Peter Fritz AO established a similar facility two decades ago in a former warehouse in Chippendale, an inner Sydney suburb. He wrote a book about it, called the Honey Pot or similar. His best known book is The Possible Dream. Peter is a true collaborator and visionary, and chairs an OECD group promoting SME development.

However we applaud Sydney City Council for its vision. The CBD is a natural place for such incubators, and we trust it works. The critical factor could well be finding a venture capitalist, or some outfit with patient capital, to join the collaborative effort.

This article draws on material supplied by the Sydney Morning Herald

Collaborator Profile – Carmen Sillero (Andalucía, Spain)

March 6, 2012


I’m Carmen Sillero (Masters Degree, Agronomical Engineering), Head of International Programmes at the Agency of Innovation and Development of Andalusia (Agencia IDEA). Andalusia is the southernmost region in Spain, on the south west vertex of the European Union. Most populous (8.4 million inhabitants) and second largest of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities (87,957 km2).


I am responsible for the international activities at Agencia IDEA. That means, mainly the management of a range of territorial cooperation programmes among the European regions, funded by the European Union, and the foresight of international opportunities to better connect andalusian economic agents in the global market. As an Innovation Agency, attached to the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science, our objectives are:
 Promotion of public-private partnerships.
 Development of the spirit of enterprise and innovation.
 Design and implementation of quality support services.
 Provision of capital resources for the support and finance of businesses.
 Establishment of an appropriate administrative environment adapted for the creation of business.

One of our main tasks is to foster the andalusian participation in international cooperating networks, mainly those focused on innovation and business cooperation.


Spain is suffering the tougher crisis since the 1940’s, after the civil war. Although the huge effort my region has made in the last 20 years on improving human capacities and creating knowledge facilities to support a new economic model, the current economic situation is forcing andalusian firms to close and therefore many jobs are being destroyed.

Is in this moment when our Regional Government is asked by the European Commission to propose a new strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, by which our territorial challenges should be faced. This strategy must be based on:
 The specialisation of our productive sector, in line with the improvement of our R&D capacities and the enhancement of our human resources skills.
 Strengthening of territorial cooperation.
 Linking our firms into global value chains.


1 Engagement on the achievement of a clear and shared common target.
2. Mutual understanding. Different cultures, different approaches, but the same goal.
3. Hard work. Resilience.


We are a Regional Development Agency, thus glad to share experiences and develop common projects with other public institutions re promotion, support, funding of innovative SMEs, focused in internationalization.

Given Andalusian industrial capacities and R&D strengths, our work on healthy food, biotechnology, tourism and renewable energy, could be very interesting areas for collaboration.

Aligning our strategies for joint market exploration could be especially worthy.

(Carmen is a tireless collaborator – she was a key organizer of the OECD/EC Smart Specialisation Strategies workshops in Seville in November 2011. Agencia IDEA is an ideal partner for facilitating trade and investment with Spanish companies. Contact her at – Editor)

ACT Government collaborates to its advantage

January 31, 2012

Australia is hosting the next G20 summit in 2014 – but a location has not been decided.

Well ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has basically stitched things up with a very intelligent play.

The background is that Canberra has not got a big enough venue nor the accommodation for such an event. So she has proposed a joint bid with NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell forSydney to host the major summit meeting, withCanberra picking up lead-up meetings and associated events.

O’Farrell is happy because it basically stymies a Melbourne bid. He would be wary of Victoria’s aggressive tactics, and the significant alliances between the federal and Victorian bureaucracies. But PM Gillard would now be loathe to reject such an innovative bid by two governments.

This bid raises the question of how local councils might collaborate on bids to the federal and indeed state governments. Federal programs are increasingly seeking signs of collaboration from the other parties. It might be in terms of sharing particular types of infrastructure, or developing joint bids for a defence installation, or a hub and spoke arrangement for regional sports facilities. We work with local councils to develop collaborative bids.




Best Practice Projects Update

January 18, 2011

We currently have around 20 projects at various stages of development – across the following categories (1) Idea awaiting partners (2) Project Scoping (3) Funding submission underway (4) Awaiting funding decision (5) Contract negotiations underway.

Below is a state-of-play on some of these. Each requires collaboration – across councils, across companies, between industry and government etc. If you are interested in collaborating on any, please contact us and we’ll put you in direct contact with them.

Clean Energy Hybrids – possibility of an alliance to seek funding for wind-solar hybrid plants for small remote communities. Partners in remote regions sought. Status – Idea awaiting partners.

Indigenous Youth ‘New Horizons’ Project – in discussions with FAHCSIA and ACT Government for support via Innovation Fund to bring indigenous youths from regional Australia to Canberra for a week’s mentoring and job readiness training. We have in-principle OK from Central Darling and East Gippsland Shires. Room for two more. Status – Funding submission due to commence.

Capacity-building in Pacific Islands – a project evolving from former Aust. Foreign Affairs Minister Downer’s interest in driving stronger aid outcomes. We met with Foreign Affairs & Trade in 2010 and they showed particular interest, and referred us to Pacific Trade Investment Office in Sydney. Awaiting CEO to return from leave. Status – Ideas awaiting partners.

Eastern Adelaide stormwater – prior to Nov 2010 federal election, both Gillard and Abbott committed funds ($10m upwards) for a best-practice stormwater project. Status – Awaiting funding decision from SA Government.

Creative Arts Centre – major grant approved in principle for an iconic Outback NSW town. Status – Contract negotiations underway.

Central NSW – exciting film hub project evolving, involving a significant Canberra company. Status – project scoping almost finished. Funding submission due to commence.

Wee Waa Community Centre – community meetings being held to confirm local support. Status – scoping study planned once community and Narrabri Council give OK.

Water pipeline – Murrumbidgee Country Club ACT – won $150k for a pipeline from Murrumbidgee. A few queries from environmental groups, but persistence is winning. Status – Contract negotiations underway.

Sunrise Program – to link networks of companies across nations to drive trade and investment. Our US colleagues have lodged a submission with the US State Department (Development Innovation Ventures program) for support for a business plan. Status – Awaiting confirmation of grant.

Healthy Food Distribution Network – the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables is 50-100% higher in semi-remote areas – a major cause of obesity. An enterprising council in western NSW is seeking federal funding for a business plan to establish a network to deliver fresh food at competitive prices. Other councils welcome to join. Status – project scoping to commence soon.

Regional airfares – we are currently in discussions with regional champions about possibly lobbying the federal Minister for Transport for a trial ‘milk run’ on certain regional routes, with a view to raising patronage and lowering fares. Status – Idea awaiting partners.

Cockatoo’s submission to LG Indigenous Employment Green Paper

October 18, 2010

We recently provided a submission to the above exercise. The salient parts are as follows:

The document covers the key issues, especially the importance of collaboration. I believe it is the core of the solution to creating indigenous jobs, and is therefore deserving of greater prominence.

To explain, we get involved in numerous indigenous projects on behalf of our members – for example, scoping and securing funding for a Creative Arts Centre in Wilcannia, developing indigenous youth mentoring programs, finding ways of reducing airfare costs in remote areas etc. Virtually all of the projects have a need for robust collaboration, and local government can play a major role in this regard. The need for collaboration stems from four general problems endemic to ‘indigenous’ project:

1. they are often in remote areas, which means delays and difficulty in coordinating people

2. they get bogged down in the bureaucracy – the numerous agencies, strategies and protocols that are trying to improve the indigenous cause DO add to the complexity of projects and create frustration.

3. they tend to lack indigenous champions who can bring collaborative partners to the table – sensitive area but let’s just say that white fellas are pushier and more persistent in promoting their projects and ideas.

4. they often involve significant public good aspects, which is spread across the three levels of government and many agencies and programs.

This coordination problem can only be addressed by collaboration. And this requires people on the ground who are strong, persistent and skilled – and able to drive real outcomes. It’s a risky business, and not a job for amateurs. The ideal arrangement is two project managers working in tandem – one within local government and an external facilitor/consultant.

The ACELG project should highlight this problem and develop initiatives to address it.

kind regards

Rod Brown, CEO, Cockatoo Network Canberra A.C.T. Australia

Colombia’s Productive Transformation Program

August 20, 2010

Colombia has come a long way since 2000 – the Government has reclaimed territories it had abandoned to drug traffickers and rebel armies, crime rates have fallen drastically, investor confidence is high and unemployment has dropped.

Growth during the 2008–09 global recession was at 4.6% and an economic development program now focuses on specific sectors – useful lessons for other developing countries.

It’s called the Productive Transformation Program (launched 2007) – a novel public–private partnership in 8 sectors. Early results suggest that tighter collaboration has built competitive advantages.

To explain, Colombia has a diversified industrial base focused on the internal market – due to earlier import substitution. Accordingly, most industries failed to become globally competitive, Colombia thus depends on oil, coal, coffee, fresh-cut flowers etc. The new program now aims to accelerate the growth of value-added sectors.

Rather than choose winners, Colombia a contest decided the initial sectors – the pre-condition was that protection would not be granted, but the government would educate and train the workforce, improve the regulatory environment, help with export promotion and develop the required infrastructure.

The first sectors chosen were outsourcing and off-shoring, software, cosmetics, personal-care products, health tourism, textiles & clothing, electricity, auto parts, printing & graphic arts. The government worked with businesses to implement a strategic agenda based around an understanding of the sector’s position in the local and global marketplace, and to define initiatives required to increase the sector’s competitiveness.

For example, in the outsourcing sector, India and the Philippines were studied, given their success serving the English-language market. Morocco was also studied to understand its approach to the French-language market. It was also concluded that Colombia has lower costs than other Latin American nations and could serve the US Hispanic market and multinationals in the region.

There is an important new working dynamic between the public sector and the business community. Columbia’s leaders are committed to accelerating the pace of the country’s economic development. The Productive Transformation Program is an important element in this process. And Colombia’s new government has promised to continue it.

Source: McKinsey’s Bogotá office

(Cockatoo member Sebastian Brown returned last month from a lengthy tour of South America, and noted that Colombia is indeed getting its act together, and is ahead of Equador, Chile, Peru and Bolivia on most performance criteria – Editor)

US collaboration in indigenous arts

May 25, 2010

 Cockatoo member Stu Rosenfeld continues his sterling work to connect us via his CraftNet Sketches.

He informs us that the Ford Foundation has announced a new ten-year, $100 million program to support art spaces. Ford will fund art groups across the USA to create new art spaces and launch programs in new or renovated facilities. In Phase 1, grants of up to $100k are for planning facilities that support artistically innovative and culturally diverse projects to strengthen relationships between artists and communities. 

 Ford also will fund seminars related to sustaining art centers and affordable housing for artists.  “We believe that this investment in arts infrastructure will advance the well being of our communities, because artists and art spaces play a significant role in boosting local economies.”

 This has strong resonance in regional Australia. We’ve recently prepared a business plan for Central Darling Shire for a Creative Arts Centre in Wilcannia. It’s patently clear that Australian aborigines have deep-seated creative skills – borne out by studies by Regional Arts NSW which make a point about the need for back-up support for Indigenous arts groups e.g. advice on the financial, marketing, purchasing, governance aspects of running businesses.

The problem is that Indigenous people are not experienced in business and corporate governance. This was stressed in the report ‘Open for Business: Developing Indigenous enterprises in Australia (2008).’ [1] (Enterprise Connect hasn’t quite latched onto this need yet. – Editor)

[1] House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

Creativity as theme in North Carolina

May 25, 2010

 North Carolina’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) has chosen Creativity as its theme to mark the 25th anniversary of its annual Emerging Issues Forum—it attracted 1,200 participants.

The Institute is a North Carolina think tank founded by former Governor Jim Hunt and housed at North Carolina State University. Gov. Hunt declared that creativity is one of the most important topics the Institute has ever addressed. The conference kicked off with a 20/20 session where 20 North Carolinians were given one minute each to discuss their creative visions for the state (nice idea!!). What followed was a diverse program meant to stimulate conversation among participants about the role of creativity in their state.

 As a follow-on to the conference, communities across the state are hosting communitywide conversations on how to create and strengthen environments in which creativity thrives. The North Carolina Dept. of Commerce updated the analysis of the state’s creative economy, and found that it comprises 5.5% of the state’s employment (293,000 jobs).

IEI has an online “collaboration platform” on which users can contribute to virtual conversations on North Carolina’s creative potential ( For presentations etc. go to

Sunrise Program

May 25, 2010

 The biggest constraint in getting trade and investment deals underway is the inertia among SMEs and the development agencies that support them. This is not due to a lack of interest – the inertia stems from:

  • The time and resources in finding true business collaborators.
  • Not knowing who to talk to. The critical knowledge is often embedded in people and networks that are not immediately known.
  • The difficulty in finding partners with a similar mindset, and with integrity. 
  • The lack of quality time to brainstorm opportunities face-to-face with such parties.
  • The complexity of legal, tax and governance issues in the other country.

 These problems are amplified at the sub-regional level where interaction with big business is irregular, and where the connectivity channels are not as developed as in the major cities. This is where industry networks and clusters come into their own. The Cockatoo Network has many members at the regional level, and we want to engage YOU in this Program.

 We believe that the Program will work best at the industry level – accordingly we have developed a first-cut classification – Aquaculture, Agriculture, Automotive, Aviation, Biotechnology, Chemicals and plastics, Clean Energy, Clothing-Footwear-Leather, Creative Industries, Defence, Engineering, Environment, Healthcare, ICT, Oil and Gas, Logistics, Marine, Mining Technology and Geology, Food and Beverages, Metal Fabrication, Paper & Paper Products, Services,  Telecommunications, Timber and timber products.

 We are looking to identify for networks and clusters across national borders to trade intellectual property, manufacturing processes, products and services. If you can appreciate our goals, please email us ASAP. We have people in the USA, Australia, NZ, Germany, Bangladesh and France currently thinking through how best to proceed. We might convene a workshop in coming months.

 We’d love to hear from Cockatoo members:

  • involved in clusters or networks that fit the bill.
  • looking to do joint research across borders.
  • with ideas of how we might attract funding from government.
  • with an interest in attending a workshop to progress the concepts.
  • With any bright ideas!