June 10, 2015

Another Aussie Export Boom?

(First published by Victor Jiang, Oct 2012)


Another Aussie export boom?

No more digging

I want Australia to have another export boom.

Not one based on digging up things out of the ground, as we all know that that doesn’t last in the long term and, in the short term, we are at the mercy of global commodity prices dictated by one or few very large buyers.

Nor do I think we will have a manufacturing export boom. Due to the population size and geographic location of Australia, we probably will never have a large enough manufacturing base to reach effective scale.

As Dr Masahiko Takeda – Deputy Director for APAC at the IMF, have noted recently (at the Australian Graduate School of Management), as more Australian economic growth becomes increasingly and more narrowly dependent on resource exports to China/India, this is causing Australian business sentiment to be increasingly negative – falling to 12th in the world, even though we currently have the strongest GDP growth among the developed world.

The press media and business community of Australia have taken notice. Newspapers such as The Australian has identified this – through its “Australia in the China Century” series of publications and conferences. They are advocating for a strong need to diversify our export sectors. Aussie business leaders such as Kerry Stoke and James Packer have identified this, advocating  for the Aussie business community to do more to engage our biggest trade partners, such as China.

So where could our next export boom possibly come from??



I believe it will come from services. Knowledge-based services, to be precise.

Imagine:  an export boom based on exporting our brain power, our knowledge, our skills. Price-setting globally competitive services. Not pricing-taking commodity goods.

Cognitive brain

Australia has one of the highest technology adoption rates in the world. We have an excellent education system that attracts the envy of countries with more resources than us. We frequently punch way above our weight and many of our brightest have gone on to achieve great scientific and commercial successes on the world stage (albeit they often had to leave Australia to do it).

This is the sector that will yield the greatest and most ensuring hope for our ongoing export growth. However, as much as there are Australian talents that shine on the global stage, there are probably far more people (including this writer) that are frustrated at the lack of channels to connect our skills with those in need of this knowledge, anywhere in the world.

What if:

  • hiring skilled knowledge workers could be as easy as booking an airline ticket, or a hotel room?
  • labour prices could fluctuate depending on industry/geography/market conditions, in real-time,based on transparent demand and supply (just like stock or indices on an exchange)?
  • instead of *permanent* jobs, most things we do will be outcome-based, project-oriented,skills-driven?
  • how much of a boost will it be to Australian knowledge exporters, if overseas markets and potential customers can instantly visualise their skillsets, availability, price and past customer testimonials, as well as the means to book their services in real-time?


To facilitate such a reality in the (not-too-distant) future, we will need:

A)  An efficient and transparent knowledge & skills-oriented marketplace;

B)  A network to connect Australian knowledge workers and businesses with buyers from the largest and/or fastest growing economies of the world;

C)  A funding mechanism or channel to support budding knowledge and innovation businesses to experiment / launch / scale / repeat.


We are putting into action plans on how this can be achieved.



June 2015 Update:

Nearly 3 years on, we have the first glimpse of how this can come together:

A)  Skillsapien.com – is a global online platform and knowledge services marketplace, with a curated network of over 6000 executive consultants consisting – almost all are former Fortune500 C-level executives, ex-Partner level professionals from top firms, or serial entrepreneurs. Launched just under 3 years ago, Skillsapien now counts the largest State Government of Australia – the NSW State, as among its clients.

B)  Ausinan Society – a science and technology-focused non-profit community aimed at promoting bilateral trade & exchange between Australia and China. With 18 years history and thousands of members across Australia and China, most of whom are PhDs, professors, or technology entrepreneurs, the Society boasts significant resources and relationships – ranging from links with 30+ technology incubators throughout China, to numerous government bodies, industry associations, universities, entrepreneurial communities and private businesses across both Australia and China.

Ausinan is therefore uniquely positioned for researchers, professionals, investors, entrepreneurs and government entities looking to explore cross-border ventures or collaborative opportunities in both countries.

C)  Sapien Ventures LLP – an early stage technology-focused venture capital fund, that blends Silicon Valley expertise with local Australian knowledge. The fund will be looking to support early-stage technology entrepreneurs in Australia with capital and advice, through to eventual exits with seasoned capital markets expertise.


So now that we have the platform, the networks and the capital, we need awareness.

We need to make people like YOU to become aware of the opportunities and possibilities for realising the next-generation of innovations we need to solve our most pressing challenges.

Innovations that will allow home-grown solutions to grow beyond our shores.

That allows companies and individuals out of Australia to continue punch far above above its weight on the global stage.

A new Australian export boom.


Lets spread the word.