This week we’re thrilled to bring to Brisbane Tristan Pollock from 550 Startups in Silicon Valley as a guest of the Visiting Entrepreneur Program, a partnership between Digital Brisbane and The Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation. 500 Startups is the world’s most active seed fund and startup accelerator. As Entrepreneur in Residence and Venture Partner at 500 Startups, Tristan brings incredible insight and experience to the local startup community. The interest he has in Brisbane and Australia and developing relationships here is exciting. What’s also exciting is the growing attendance at Digital Brisbane’s Power-Up Small Business workshops. Last week’s session on Email Marketing proved incredibly popular and shows how small businesses are hungry for information and useful tips to digitally transform their operations. Next month our Digital Brisbane Speed Matchmaking event links digital suppliers to small businesses in a social setting. If you’re an SME, make sure you RSVP. It’s free. Last week I was also a guest of OpenGov Asia at its Singapore Leadership Forum. Singapore is working on similar challenges to other cities on the smart city journey – traffic management and congestion, aging population, security, healthcare and urban logistics. Like Brisbane, it sees innovation, entrepreneurship and small business digital capability as significant foundational building blocks to a smart city. I had the opportunity to present a keynote speech, Building a Human-Centric Smart City, network with global peers and learn more about Singapore itself, which is striving to be the world’s leading smart nation. Singapore is unique, there’s no doubt about it. Its youth, government, size and population offer both unique benefits and constraints. What I found most interesting was how it is building smart city capabilities. I met with the CIO and his team at IDA (Infocomm Development Authority), the agency in charge of the smart city efforts, and loved their philosophy:
- Design a city (or a solution/system) that, when you’re no longer in government, you’ll be proud of.
- Identify real problems, for industry, citizens or government, which could be solved with a digital solution.
- Use design thinking to develop solutions to those problems.
- Get as many stakeholders involved in that design-thinking process as possible.
- Be smart about the role of government and industry in executing those solutions.
The hour I spent with Mr Khoong and his team left me excited by the possibilities for Brisbane, and buoyed by our progress to date. It was also a great opportunity to meet with colleagues from tech and telco companies, discussing their own smart city projects in Singapore as well as around the world. It demonstrated the importance of knowledge sharing and collaboration in this space (as well as in the new world economy as a whole). No-one has all the answers, but when we leave our egos at the door and are willing to co-create solutions that couldn’t be created on our own, we can engineer synergy.