Impact requires more than research, publications and good science

17th November 2015

To paraphrase Dean Kamen, ”if you have a goliath problem and you are one small man, you need an innovation”. With a view of eliminating unnecessary deaths resulting from consumption of contaminated water, Dean, as astute and determined innovator, researched and developed a water purification system, which he called SlingShot. The system he developed is now being translated into third world countries worldwide. The story behind SlingShot depicts the innovation pathway and it has been made into a documentary, which is currently showing on Netflix. At the NFMRI, we are working with medical researchers and their institutions to help advance their innovations and to enable collaborations. The pathway for translation is best understood and achieved by not only looking forward from the aspect of technical advancement, but also backward from the provision of access and use of the innovation including; education, marketing, distribution, regulation and an ability to be fit-for-purpose. Trying to break your innovation is important in its development. You need to ask not only will it work, but also will it fail, and if so, how. If you are interested in innovation I encourage you and your colleagues and students to watch the documentary SlingShot. It is a fascinating story where the lessons are abundant and presented in an entertaining and understandable manner that will capture your attention and imagination. As Australia embarks on a newly invigorated innovation agenda and recognises the opportunity for education and careers in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) we can also look to Dean Kamen and the program FIRST for examples of how we together can make a difference. “Think different, do different, & make a difference.

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