Friday, June 29, 2012

Announcing ... the GIG Engine

Announcing .. the GIG Engine (built by CIE and NSi in collaboration with BlueChilli and additional assistance from NICTA and Silicon Beach) 

Screenshot of the GIG Engine

This interactive visual map of the Australian innovation system builds on a long history of TechMaps. The GIG Engine is also timely for incumbents and newcomers to our community to familiarize themselves with who is out there, doing what, and how interconnected this space is.

Back in Vancouver, I was part of the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST), which was the driving force behind the BC TechMap, published as a massive poster in 2003:

Apparently, there's a 2012 version coming soon!

In 2011, Env & Planning A published a similar TechMap for Puget Sound (Seattle area) came out, too. 

The BC TechMap was lauded for making people feel like they’re part of a community, and the map remained in the boardrooms of many offices several years after it was created.

However, these Techmaps have a few limitations: (i) they’re static and get dated quickly, (ii) they’re hard to navigate, (iii) they focus on the tech-preneurs, and are missing all the glue that holds these pieces together. The first two are obvious, but let’s have a look at point iii. If you redraw the BC TechMap as a social network diagram, you’ll see that it actually looks like the clusters of multiple generations spin-offs are totally disconnected:

If you’re an entrepreneur, that doesn’t exactly tell you anything other than that some companies and universities spin off more companies, but it doesn’t say who to turn to for R&D tax advice, capital, workshops, legal help, tech support, market research, etc. .. Enter GIG Engine.
Just in the last few years, our community has seen the (re-)emergence of supporting organizations (in no particular order): Sydney Angels, Tech23, SydStart, MEGA (reborn), StartMate, PushStart, IgnitionLabs, Springboard, Founders Institute, General Assembly, MHCarnegie, Accel, StartupBus, Fishburners, 66-Meetups, BlueChilli, Heads OverHeels, UnConvention, TiE, Student entrepreneurship societies (e.g. UNSW, UTS) and other facebook groups, more courses and programs at unis and pre-uni (incl social entrepreneurship), ShoeString Startups, and a number of hack-a-thons (RHoK, Launch48). We have also seen recent attempts to map out the ecosystem via Silicon Beach (mindmeister) and our partners (StartRail, ANZ Cleantech Industry 2010), as well as attempts to sequence the Aussie innovation Genome, these maps still fall a little short on some of the same 3 points mentioned earlier. I’m not saying the GIG Engine is perfect, and we're hoping the community will get involved (email us!) to make it better.

What you could get out of it: Find out who’s who, and who’s related to who, to help you build the network you need for your venture.

What we get out of it: A living database that can be used for research on the networks of ventures.

(But really did it because it we were curious and it was kind of fun.)
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