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Top 7 Innovation Labs in Australia

Top 7 Innovation Labs in Australia
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Australia is currently ranked number 23 on the Global Innovation Index 2017. Although locations such as Singapore dominate the rankings, given the vast number of innovation programs being run in the region, Australia boasts some impressive innovation labs. To put the growth of innovation labs into perspective, about 10 innovation labs are being launched each month globally. That is not looking like slowing down anytime soon.

There are seven innovation labs that you need to know about in Australia.

1. Commonwealth Bank

CommBank has launched three innovation labs globally in Hong Kong, London and Sydney. Their innovation lab in Sydney invites participants to ideate and execute. To help with this, the lab boasts some of the latest technology to fast-track the innovation process. One of the standout elements of the lab is that participants can interact with real time data and actually collaborate with CommBank project teams.

2. Telstra

In 2015, Telstra launched their Gurrowa innovation lab in Melbourne. The lab aims to provide a physical space for customers, partners, incubators and research institutes to connect and collaborate. This is in addition to muru-D, their renowned accelerator program. The team at Telstra didn’t stop there. They have just launched Australia’s first publicly accessible IoT innovation lab, opening up their knowledge and resources to start-ups.

3. Origin Energy

Earlier in 2017, Origin Energy launched its first innovation lab via the announcement of the opening of O Hub. The lab was set up as a colocation space for staff to work closely with tech start-ups. More specifically, the space in Melbourne is “dedicated to rapidly prototyping, developing and trialling new customer solutions”. They have recently announced their first major project, a home energy solution that is being trialled with 5,000 Victorian customers.

4. IAG

IAG is starting to make some serious innovation investments, evidenced by the launch of their innovation incubator in Sydney. Launching in 2017, Firemark Labs aims to provide startups with an environment to explore new products, services and business models. The lab aligns with the IAG strategic vision of generating customer-led and data-driven business growth.

5. REA Group

Opening its doors towards the end of 2016, REALabs has been labelled the ‘dedicated invention hub’ for REA Group. It has been “designed to create, trial and bring to life the newest technologies for consumers to experience property”. This hub aims to support the international expansion of the digital advertising company, with a key focus on technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and robotics.

6. Mastercard

This lab hasn’t been built yet, but I couldn’t leave it off the list given Mastercard’s presence of innovation labs globally. Judging by the success of their other labs, there are high expectations on this upcoming innovation lab. Mastercard has recently announced that they will launch a Global Tech Hub in Sydney in mid-2018. All of the current Sydney-based employees (approximately 600) will relocate to this new space that also provides innovation services for their global partners.


KPMG has launched an innovation lab in Sydney. The lab contains emerging technologies including wearables, drones and 3D printers. The purpose of the lab is to help KPMG clients better understand these different technologies through experimentation. In addition, the lab aims to build stronger connections with startups.

For all the innovation labs being created in the world, unfortunately about 90% of them end up failing. It is essential that companies looking to create innovation labs invest the required time to set-up the foundations, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. This includes the design of the lab all the way through to management of the space.  

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Shay Namdarian

Shay is the General Manager of Customer Strategy at Collective Campus. He has over 10 years of experience working across a wide range of projects focusing on customer experience, design thinking, innovation and digital transformation. He has gained his experience across several consulting firms including Ernst & Young, Capgemini and Accenture.

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