It is with profound sadness that I advise of the passing of Peter North AM, FTSE, HonFIEAust. Peter collapsed suddenly Monday night and was taken to hospital where he passed away on Tuesday morning 19 March 2019. Peter was a founding Director of the Australian Centre for Innovation and continued in that position until the company was wound up in January 2019. He had a profound insight into the transformative character of emerging technology and constantly strived to enable Australians to be better prepared for a changing future.
The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering carried a profile of retiring ACIIC Executive Director Professor Ron Johnston in its Friday 15 February issue of The Prototype. It can be accessed at https://thewarrencentre.org.au/who-is-professor-ron-johnston/
Bouquets have been received from Professor Mark Dodgson:
“Ron Johnston is the founder of science and innovation policy studies in Australia, and has been its leading light for decades. He has made an immense contribution to the advancement of science and innovation, often in unreceptive conditions. The Australian Centre for Innovation will be missed and leaves a major gap. He deserves the gratitude of all those currently promoting science and innovation: we stand on his shoulders.”
and Professor Roy Green:
“Congrats Ron Johnston on champion innings for #innovation policy to reposition Australia as #knowledge economy.”
The Australian Centre for Innovation will live on through its endowment of an $0.75 million program in Humanitarian Innovation to be managed by the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering.
We also plan to continue to operate this website as a source of information and thought about innovation.
Warren Centre Chairman, Richard Kell, and Dr Roslyn Dubs,
Chair of the Australian Centre for Innovation (ACIIC), announce the
establishment of a fund for the recognition of outstanding contributions in
humanitarian engineering. “The efforts of humanitarian engineers are being
highlighted around the globe every day. Engineers are using appropriate
technology to provide clean water, sanitation, roads, power, communications,
shelter and schools in less developed countries and fragile states,” Richard Kell said. “Of course, post disaster relief has been a
major contribution. In recent times, massive relief efforts have been mobilised
in PNG, Fiji, Indonesia and other Asia-Pacific countries, following earthquakes
and cyclones. Significant efforts are
underway to operate refugee camps in Syria and Yemen,” he added.
The Warren Centre will manage legacy funds resulting from
the ACIIC organisation so that the profound legacy of its long-term Director,
Professor Ron Johnston, will continue. The annual program includes two
humanitarian innovation awards for university students and is committed for a
period of six years.
The Warren Centre will host two annual events designed to
provoke thought leadership from Australian university students in the name of
humanitarian innovation. The award events will be national, with students from
all engineering schools throughout Australia encouraged to participate.
The first event, the
Prof Ron Johnston Prize for Humanitarian Innovation, will highlight
excellence in engineering innovation for ideas that support human welfare, post
disaster or in fragile states. Part of the prize will be an internship with a
leading consultant. The second event, the
RedR Ron Johnston Rapid Response Prize, will see Australia’s best and
brightest students invited to partake in a 48 hour, lock-down hackathon event
to develop technical solutions for humanitarian problems. Addressing real
life-real time challenges, mentored by RedR field operatives, this humanitarian hackathon is aimed at
developing breakthrough solutions which can then be used in real world
“The Warren Centre was chosen by the Board of ACIIC for this
legacy role, following a rigorous and competitive process, and we are honoured
to have been appointed for this important venture,” said Richard Kell.
“In making our submission to ACIIC, the Warren Centre
nominated the USyd Faculty of Engineering and IT and “the engineers’ NGO”, RedR
Australia, as our partners. Dr Jacqueline Thomas of the USyd Civil Engineering
Humanitarian major will represent the Faculty as we proceed with this venture.
The involvement of RedR operatives will add realism to the competition. RedR
Chair, Dr Elizabeth Taylor says, “We look forward to working with the Warren
Centre”. “The engagement in our team of the internationally acknowledged and
accredited NGO, RedR Australia, will reflect well on the University of Sydney
and the Faculty and create a unique experience for the student participants,”
Richard Kell concluded.
Ashley Brinson, Executive Director, The Warren Centre
The Warren Centre brings industry, government and academia
together to create thought leadership in engineering, technology, and
innovation. We constantly challenge the economic, legal, environmental, social
and political issues surrounding innovation and technology.
At the Warren Centre we leap ahead of what people are
thinking about today and move to where technology is taking us. We have over 30 years’ experience of driving
these conversations through projects, promotion, and independent advice, which in
turn has helped drive entrepreneurship and economic growth.
The Warren Centre promotes excellence in innovation through
delivering collaborative projects, supporting and recognising innovators across
the profession, and providing independent advice to government and industry.
The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering Ltd School of Information Technologies Building J12
University of Sydney NSW 2006
T: (02) 9351 3752
F: (02) 9351 2012
ABN: 27 132 821 688
The Australian Centre for Innovation has operated successfully for just over 26 years. During that time we have chalked up a number of significant achievements.
I believe it is fair to claim, that we have significantly
advanced the understanding of the role of science, technology and innovation
(STI) in the national and global economy and of the tools and policies required
to support the growth and application of STI (though it has become apparent it
is a never-ending challenge). We have trained STI experts in many countries,
particularly in the ASEAN region. We also helped to pioneer the application of
tools like scenario planning to strengthen the future-orientation of strategy,
planning and management, and to interpret the potential characteristics of a
range of emerging technologies. And we have had a marked impact on the learning
of thousands of engineering students, providing them with a wider perspective
on the professional aspects of their skill development, and of the role of
technology in their future career.
But it is clear that times have changed. The demand for our special insights on science, technology and innovation has declined as governments and companies have moved to require end-to-end analysis, policy formulation and program delivery in house.
As a consequence, the Board and members have determined that ACIIC should enter voluntary liquidation as of 10 January 2019. But that does not end our contribution. Assets of some $700,000 have been gifted to the Warren Centre of Advanced Engineering to promote humanitarian innovation through two new programs to operate over a number of years. A press release from the Warren Centre in our News section provides more detail.
To all of you who have followed our pioneering work over the years to improve our nation’s understanding of and ability to implement effectively new technologies, many thanks. It is our intention to continue to contribute to this discussion through this website and other channels.
Mal died on Saturday 3rd March, after 20 years of battling four different types of cancer. Some 250 friends and family gathered at Fremantle Cemetery to say their farewells and celebrate his extraordinary life on Monday 12 March. Mal was Chair of the Australian Centre of Innovation from its inception in 1992 for six years and for a further three years in 2014-2016. He was boundless in his enthusiasm to help others understand and benefit from emerging technologies. An apt remark made at his funeral was “in contrast for the recent fashion to strive to get rich through technology, Mal strove to socialise it for the benefit of all”. ACIIC has lost a dear friend and the world is a much poorer place without him.