Hard times open up innovation surge

In a new twist on the grisly scenarios associated with the tech downturn, a visiting US Internet expert yesterday said that while the economic climate may be tough it is also a time of 'innovation upturn'.

Speaking at the Growing Australia Online Conference in Canberra, the president and CEO of the US Industry Association, Dave McClure said in hard times companies are forced to cut back on staff "leaving thousands of former employees free to pursue their dreams, to innovate and to create new companies".

"Also, companies affected by the economic downturn are coming back leaner and more business focused; there are now more than 21,000 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the US alone, and the number is increasing daily."

McClure described the Internet as classic disruptive technology that circumvents traditional distribution models.

He said broadband deployment in Australia is more advanced than the US, where there are traditional regulatory barriers.

"For example, the Australian Government is committed to making broadband available to every home here years before the US; penetration in the US is about 28 per cent."

The conference has been organised by NetAlert, an advisory body established by the Federal Government to promote the use of the Internet.

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