Advance awards program looks to boost university innovation

Advance, the Federal Government-backed network of Australians living overseas, has launched an awards program aimed at boosting innovation within Australian universities.


The network, which has a membership of more than 20,000 people in 90 countries, says that its Global Australian Awards will help develop the next generation of Australian business leaders.


The awards will identify the “most innovative and inspirational” Australians living abroad in eight separate categories: ICT, clean tech, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, financial services, mining and resources, and social innovation.


Last year’s inaugural awards recognised the work of advertising executive David Nobay, who worked on the Obama presidential campaign, biotech entrepreneur Tan Le and Jeremy Heimans, co-founder of social activist network GetUp.


The eight category winners will fly in to be named at a ceremony in Sydney in 2013, before embarking upon a 12-month mentoring program for students.


The one-on-one mentoring scheme aims to provide “advice and inspiration” to the next generation of Australian innovators.


Organisers of the Advance awards argue that Australians shouldn’t view innovators who move overseas as a “brain drain”, as has been claimed after recent examples of promising local start-ups that have moved to the US in order to access funding and larger markets.


“In fields that are critical to Australia’s ability to compete in a global world, it’s good to know that some of our best and brightest brains are achieving so much overseas,” says Ken Allen, founder of Advance.


“Rather than see them as lost talent, there is a great need to recognise them and to connect them back to Australia. We need to view them as a brain resource, not a brain drain.”


“Australians are nomadic by nature, and almost all of us know someone close to us who is living and working overseas. The awards are a long-awaited opportunity to bring their stories home.”


Nominations for the awards are open until September 30. For more information, click here.


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