Imagine… The 25th Anniversary Energia Australia Lecture

Imagine… The 25th Anniversary Energia Australia Lecture

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I speak tonight, 1.2 billion people rely on Energeia for their energy. And while all electrons may appear equal, their generation is not.

Energia’s products are amongst the most efficient and sustainable on the planet and they are making a difference everywhere. They are creating efficiencies in crushing ore, moving water over vast distances, decreasing the cost of food production and keeping the elderly and young safe from climate change driven temperature extremes.

Today I want to go beyond a stocktake of success and look at the thinking that drove this outcome.

Cast your mind back to 2019… a time before driverless cars, when social media supported decision making, a flight from Sydney took 19 hours and there were 2 billion fewer people living on the planet. To the casual observer Australia was in a good place – low export diversity but a high wage economy with enviable social security. However, a closer look revealed disturbing complacency.

This was well illustrated at the time by the landmark The Future of Universities Thoughtbook.

In 2019 universities enjoyed a unique sense-making perspective of the world, but they sat off to the side of the action. They were a wealth of reliable knowledge, but struggled for traction with solving real world problems.

Universities needed to be at the heart of a national transformation with a new sort of collaboration. This was a time when we were just beginning to understand that the creation of sovereign wealth needed to focus on unmet needs in the fundamentals of health, energy, water, food, shelter, transport and communication.

In 2020 came the National Summit and the acceptance that universities would be the ‘go to’ for community understanding of the big issues in these fundamentals, and trusted partners to inform decision making about creating sustainable, long term economic and social value. This required partnership across universities, business, government and society from the outset – a shared mission and an understanding of scale, its opportunities and consequences.

The conversion of strategic intent to implementation was impressive.

Rather than focusing on a range of potential future opportunities, one was chosen: energy. And the driving force was the amazing 500. I was one of the 500 PhD scholarships allocated across every aspect of the energy sector. For those first three years every participant presented once a year at the MCG at the Forum of Forums, and what have we learnt? One thing above all else.

Complacency is debilitating and collaboration driven by a shared vision and mission is transformational.

I am delighted to see the vision for 2070 released at this meeting and I wish you the very best.

Thank you!


Natalie Forde is UniSA’s Head of Partner Engagement and responsible for the university’s industry engagement and partnering strategy.
Natalie leads a team of professionals that develops comprehensive, whole of enterprise partnerships and partnering services for UniSA. Natalie’s successes in both large and small businesses within the private & public sector has developed her strong commercial acumen and her understanding of how to use innovation to contribute to an organisation’s competitiveness. Natalie is experienced in innovation strategy, commercialisation, new product and business development and University Business Collaboration.
This knowledge and experience built up over two decades has been crucial to her credibility as a broker of trusted engagements between industry and the higher education sector. Natalie has worked across Australia, New Zealand, USA and Europe where she has worked with a variety of organisations and national innovation systems.

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