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In for a penny, but the ideas are priceless

In for a penny, but the ideas are priceless

This post is by Kane Fillingham, Chief Executive Officer of CTO Group.

I would give a pretty penny to be able to see the famous English coffee houses of the seventeenth century in action. The tradition of free and innovative thinking that they created is still very much alive and well in a new generation of innovative spaces in Australia today.

Last month, my colleague Andrew McLintock and I had the opportunity to attend a significant event in Australia’s innovation ecosystem.

Dubbed ‘Spaces of Australian Innovation’, the event was part of Global Access Partners’ Annual Economic Summit, and brought together a select audience of 110 thought leaders from business, government and academia, for dinner and a free-flowing discussion the following day.

The keynote speaker at the event was the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Lucy Turnbull, who has a long-standing interest in Australian innovation, having been a significant investor in Australia’s technology sector, as well as having a strong involvement in the broader development of Sydney.

The gathering was also pleased by the last minute attendance of Lucy’s husband Malcolm, whose personal interest in the innovation space is well-known.

In her address, Lucy made reference to the famed English coffeehouses of the seventeenth century. These venues – which evolved into the modern day café – were how coffee first spread throughout England. Admission – for the price of a penny – gained one a cup of coffee, as well as access to serious conversation and news.

Coffeehouses eventually played an important role in helping financial markets and newspapers to develop.

I was impressed to learn that Lloyds of London started life in the mid-seventeenth century as Lloyds Coffeehouse, where shipping merchants would meet to get the latest shipping news and perform trades with one another.

So, the link to innovation? The coffeehouse concept provided a space where ideas could be freely shared and discussed. Regardless of ones’ views, persuasions or ideals, the coffeehouse became a hub where passionate thinkers could engage with creative engineers and designers who could take the seed of an idea and give it life.

In short, they became a fertile bed that promoted and supported innovation.

This concept resonated strongly with me, because this is precisely the basis on which CTO Group was founded — to provide a supportive place where thoughts and ideas are shared, discussed and turned into reality.

It is no coincidence that CTO Group was conceived in a coffeehouse!

The picture below was taken from the summit, held in the Legislative Chamber of NSW Parliament House, where a number of great ideas around Australian innovation were discussed. I look forward to continuing this free flowing discussion in other forums.