DCC Sydney’s Young Engineers Entrepreneurs Workshop
Whilst Engineers are great at solving technical problems, it takes specialist skills for an Engineer to venture into the unknown and start their own business. In recognising this, the Young Engineers Australia Sydney Division (YEAS), with the ongoing support of Davies Collison Cave, recently held their Entrepreneurs Workshop. The 2009 workshop provided an opportunity for Engineers to hear expert advice in select areas of business.
The Entrepreneurs Workshop has been held annually for several years, each year having different guest ‘entrepreneurs’ sharing their experiences and providing practical advice and tips to the attendees.
Glenn Downey of NICTA opened the evening’s proceedings by describing the commercialisation process – with a twist. Glenn highlighted that while the commercialisation process can be compared to an engineering system, its complexity is heightened due to business being primarily based upon people, thus making the journey exciting but also unpredictable! One of the most important ways of guarding against unpredictability of business is by protecting the organisation’s intellectual property (IP). Simon Reynolds, a Patent and Trade mark Attorney of Davies Collison Cave and also the immediate past Chair of YEAS, discussed important aspects of Intellectual Property for the engineering industry including patents, trade marks and registered designs. A simple but practical example of a foldable drink tray, known as the “Skoonamoova”, was used to highlight how a product’s IP can be protected when creating a start-up business.
While protecting the core technology of a business is important, an equally important aspect is being able to market your product successfully. Alan Jones, a marketing strategist of Pollenizer, highlighted the skills and personality traits an entrepreneur needs and some of the marketing strategies a new business can employ.
Alan was followed by two Engineers who have the proven skills and experience of a successful entrepreneur – Chris Vonwiller and Lu Papi. Both Chris and Lu were Engineering Excellence Award winners in 2008. Chris discussed his involvement in co-founding Appen, an Australian based Young Engineers Entrepreneurs Workshop company providing speech and language technology to a number of international companies and governments. Lu Papi discussed some of the technology his consultancy had adopted in developing the Freedom Wheelchair which won the Innovation and Inventions Award sponsored by Davies Collison Cave and the Presidents Award, both presented at the 2008 Engineering Excellence Awards. Lu also shared some practical tips on issues to consider when starting a business.
Demand to attend the Entrepreneurs Workshop has been consistently high and as such Young Engineers Australia, with the support of Davies Collison Cave, is again extending the workshop to Brisbane in August 2009 and for the first time, to Newcastle in September 2009. Any member interested in attending can contact Simon Reynolds.