The Female Stars of Australia’s new Knowledge Economy. The top 100 most influential Australians in the knowledge economy, published in today’s edition of The Australian, includes 21 women who are shaking things up in research, commercialisation, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Australia.
Titled the ‘Knowledge Nation 100’, this list was compiled by public knowledge agency the Knowledge Society in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Scientist, and highlights the movers and shakers of STEM (Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians) and the individuals who are brokering commercial partnerships between researchers and industry. According to the Knowledge Society, these are the people who will bring the next economic boom for Australia as we pull out of the mining and manufacturing industries which have served us so well in the past.
CEO of the Knowledge Society, Elena Douglas, has said: “One of the biggest problems facing progress in Australian innovation is each sector operating in isolation. You can’t have a meaningful innovation agenda unless all of the spheres of activity are working together – education at all stages, researchers, venture capitalists, policy-makers, commercialisers, researchers, universities.”
Whilst they might not be household names just yet, these are the women from the Knowledge Nation 100 list who will make the Government’s recently launched Innovation & Science Agenda a reality. You can view the complete list of 100 at The Australian website.
Co-Founder and CEO of Canva
Described as the new ‘It Girl’ of the Australian start-up scene, Melanie is one of three founders of Canva, an easy-to-use design program which at last count had five million users in 179 countries. Melanie was studying digital media at the University of Western Australia when she and her co-founders, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams, created Canva. However, this was not Melanie’s first commercial venture. At the tender age of 19 Melanie created Fusion Books, the largest yearbook provider in Australia.
Chief Digital Officer, City of Melbourne, Smart City Office
In her role as Victoria’s first chief digital officer, Michelle Fitzgerald is responsible for attracting technology and bioscience start-ups to Melbourne. As leader of the Melbourne’s new Smart City Office, Michelle and her team are collaborating with researchers and universities to solve problems, such as traffic congestion in the city.
Director of Smart Cities, IoT, Giant Ideas
Catherine Caruna-McManus has launched many successful internet businesses including whereis.com and whitepages.com.au. She is the founder of Giant Ideas, a digital transformation and technology firm for the built environment, and a NED for Meshed, an IoT (Internet of Things) integration and analytics company. Catherine’s work focuses on helping businesses to embrace rapid changes in the global economy, demographics and technology.
CEO of Bionomics
As the leader of Bionomics, an Australian bio-pharmaceutical company that develops treatments for cancer, anxiety and depression, Deborah Rathjen is responsible for around $200 million of market capitalisation. Deborah was there in the early days when Bionomics was just a start-up and stresses the importance of risk taking and agility in staying competitive in the pharmaceutical industry. Deborah says “It’s not for the faint-hearted”.
Founder and CEO of Emotiv
Tan Le is the founder of the neuroengineering company Emotiv, which is developing breakthrough human machine interface technology that takes input directly from the brain. Tan is passionate about developing affordable technology that can be accessed by everyone, including the poor and marginalised in our society.
The Big Business Leaders
Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand
Before joining global tech giant Google in 2013, Maile Carnegie was the managing director of P&G Australia and New Zealand. Maile says she sought out a position at Google because of the company’s reputation for being one of the most innovative on the planet. Maile says “To innovate you need to be risk-takers and rule-breakers.”
CEO of Deloitte Australia
Cindy Hook became the first woman to lead a big four firm in Australia when she became CEO of Deloitte Australia in 2015. Cindy is focused on growth and innovation – leading the company’s most recent round of acquisition of start-ups from Australia and the Silicon Valley. “The business environment is going to be marked by constant change,” said Cindy. “We are going to have to be an organisation that moves quickly.”
Managing Director of Microsoft Australia
An advocate for diversity and gender equality in senior management, Pip Marlow is making Microsoft more innovative by creating more flexible workplaces and driving cultural change within the organisation.
CEO of Qantas Loyalty
A leader in the data-analytics field, Lesley Grant has access to almost 30 years of data collected from the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. Using the insight gained from 11 million members, Lesley has turned this insight into action leading the development of new ventures for the Qantas Loyalty business such as Qantas Cash, Acquire, Red Planet and Qantas Assure.
The STEM Researchers
Chair of Applied Mathematics, University of Sydney
As the first woman to become a professor and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Mathematics and Statistics, Nalini Joshi works at the forefront of new knowledge where she says you “must be fearlessly curious”. Insights gained from the work of Nalini and her colleagues can solve problems such as minimising traffic congestion, cutting public transport costs and reducing internet congestion.
Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, University of NSW
The work of Professor Maria Kavallaris in cancer biology is helping to reveal how cancers grow, spread and become resistant to medical treatment. By developing advances in nanotechnology, Professor Kavallaris and her colleagues are helping to change the future of medicine.
Professor of the School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University
As an applied mathematician, Professor Kate Smith-Miles uses advanced mathematics to solve real-world problems. Professor Smith-Miles has collaborated with psychologists, physiologists, doctors and bionic-vision experts. Kate established the Monash Academy for Cross and Interdisciplinary Mathematical Applications (MAXIMA) which she describes as a “one-stop shop where people can go to access mathematical minds.”
Director of the Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analysis, Deakin University
A professor of computer science, Svetha Venkatesh is developing new technology that recognises patterns in big data. Professor Venkatesh’s work is responsible for launching two start-ups. Her work is also helping doctors to predict suicide risk, reducing neighbourhood crime and providing therapy for children with autism.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, University of WA
Professor Robyn Owens has engineered collaboration between researchers and industry at UWA. Professor Owens has helped bring researchers and industry together for the advancement of Western Australia’s energy and minerals sector.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation, University of SA
Known for her work in photonics, Professor Monro was part of the team that won the Eureka Prize for developing Super Dots technology. This technology uses optical physics to detect disease, such as cancer cells.
Deputy Dean of Computer Sciences, Flinders University
An expert in biomedical research, Professor Reynolds established the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) to bring together researchers, industry and end users of medical technology. This collaboration has led to the development of novel devices that improve diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients.
Executive Director of the Queensland Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development
The work of Professor Maree Smith has led to the development of a novel chronic pain treatment. Professor Smith launched the start-up Spinifex in 2015 to develop the drug. Spinifex was recently acquired by a global pharmaceutical company for US$200 million.
Research Scientist JPL NASA
Abigail Allwood is the first Australian (and the first woman in the world) to lead a NASA project team to search for life on Mars. As a principal investigator for NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover program, Abigail is a member of the team searching for ancient life on the red plant. She will also be involved in determining whether human beings will travel to Mars.
The Shapers of Government Policy
Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
A champion of public sector innovation, Glenys Beauchamp is shaking things up by challenging unnecessary hierarchy, investment in the status quo and the business as usual mindset.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training
As the most senior education advisor in Australia, Lisa Paul is responsible for early-childhood learning, school and post-school education, international education, science, research, employment and workplace relations.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Employment
Renee Leon is responsible for building resilience and flexibility into the workplace relations and training system so Australia can deal with automation and the many jobs it will replace over the next decade.