Innovation Lecture Series 2013

Think Big & Make It Happen

Innovation Lecture 2013

Think Big & Make It Happen

Australia can achieve extraordinary outcomes in innovation – as long as we dare to Think Big and have the determination to follow through on the vision and Make It Happen!

Dr Alex Zelinsky presented The Warren Centre’s Innovation Lecture Series for 2013, based on the theme of Think Big & Make It Happen.

Watch a highlights video of the lecture on The Warren Centre’s Vimeo channel

Watch the whole lecture on DTSO’s YouTube channel

Download the lecture handbook (PDF, 3.0MB)

Alex, who was one of The Warren Centre’s Innovation Heroes in 2012 for his contribution to innovation in information and communications technology, is Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist. His career spans innovation, science and technology, research and development, commercial start-ups and education. In August 2013 Alex was awarded the Pearcey Foundation’s 2013 Trevor Pearcey Medal for lifetime achievement and contribution to ICT in Australia.

About Dr Alex Zelinsky

Alex is Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist. His career spans innovation, science and technology, R&D, commercial start-ups and education. He has won many awards in Australia and overseas, including The Warren Centre’s Innovation Hero Award for 2012. As the chief executive of DSTO, he now leads Australia’s efforts in the application of science & technology for safeguarding Australia.

Business career

Alex was appointed Chief Defence Scientist in March 2012. He is responsible for ensuring that the Defence Science & Technology Organisation provides scientific and technical support to Australian Defence Force operations, develops future technologies for defence and national security applications, advises on the purchase and smart use of defence equipment, develops new defence capabilities, and enhances existing defence systems and equipment by improving performance, safety and reducing the cost of ownership.

From 2004 to 2012, Alex was a Senior Executive at CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation responsible for information sciences. He led the development and adoption of advanced ICT to support multi-disciplinary scientific efforts throughout the CSIRO National Flagships Program. He was also responsible for the $168 million Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, a radio telescope made up of 36 dishes that is currently under construction in Murchison, Western Australia, and the associated Pawsey Centre for High Performance Computing for SKA Science. Alex had overall responsibility in CSIRO for ICT business development, commercialisation and technology transfer activities, which led to successful spin-off and licensing of technologies in search, micro-electronics and wireless communications.

Prior to CSIRO, Alex was CEO and co-founder of Seeing Machines, an Australian high-technology company listed on the London Stock Exchange that develops state-of-the-art computer vision systems. Seeing Machines was a spin-off from Australian National University, where Alex was Professor of Systems Engineering.

Academic career

An internationally recognised scientist in robotics and real-time computer vision systems for human-machine interfaces, Alex has published over 120 refereed papers and served on the editorial boards of the top journals and magazines in his field. He began his scientific career at the University of Wollongong, where he lectured in computer science and obtained his degree and PhD qualifications. He has also worked as a research scientist in the AIST Electrotechnical Laboratory in Japan, conducting research into robotics and computer vision.

Alex has won numerous awards in Australia and overseas, including the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards, Discover Magazine’s Top 100 Innovations Award, the Australian Eureka Science Prize and the Clunies-Ross award for successful innovation involving the application of science and technology for the benefit of Australia. He was named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer (2003-05). In 2009, Engineers Australia named Alex Professional Engineer of the Year (Sydney Division), and he has been included in Engineers Australia’s list of the 100 most influential engineers since 2008. In 2012 he was one of three winners of The Warren Centre’s Innovation Hero Awards.

Innovation Lecture Series

The Warren Centre’s Innovation Lecture Series puts successful Australian innovators in the public spotlight, showcasing innovation across the engineering universe. We are privileged to present an exemplary selection of Australian achievers and to recognise great individual accomplishments in innovation.

The Lecture

Dr Alex Zelinsky is passionate about innovation. His talk discusses the lessons learnt from a lifetime career working in high technology.

The key message of Alex’s talk is that Australia can achieve extraordinary outcomes in innovation by daring to think big and then having the determination to follow through on the vision to make it happen. The talk discusses the seven key elements of innovation:

  1. Create a BIG vision with IMPACT, FOCUS and which is ACHIEVABLE
  4. Unwavering commitment to TALENT
  6. Live and breathe PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
  7. LEADERSHIP does matter!


The talk covers the lessons that Alex has learned both from successes and failures in innovation programs. As well as his work as Chief Defence Scientist at DSTO, which includes the technical risk assessment and the R&D plan for the $36 billion next-generation submarines program, these include:

  • Researching in state-of-the art robotics and computer vision technologies
  • Spinning off technology companies such as Seeing Machines – a world leader in human-machine interaction,
  • Leading teams at CSIRO whhich pioneered breakthroughs in ICT
  • Assisting Australia in the successful billion dollar Square Kilometer Array bid to build the world’s largest radio telescope

About the 2013 Innovation Lecture Series

The Warren Centre’s annual Innovation Lecture Series and Innovation Hero Awards put successful Australian innovators in the public spotlight. This year’s Lecture Series started in Sydney in July 2013, continued in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth throughout the second half of 2013, and finished in Wollongong in December 2013.

The Principal Sponsor for this year’s Innovation Lecture Series was the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO). Our National Sponsors were Roy Hill and the University of Sydney, and CSIRO was our Student Enabler Partner supporting discounted student tickets. Regional Partners included Shelston IP and AusIndustry. You can read more about our sponsors here.

Principle sponsor

Defence Science & Technology Organisation

National sponsors

Roy HillUniversity of SydneyThales logo

Student Enabler Partner:


State Partners:

innovationaustralia_logo_420x50Shelston IP

Media Partners:

New Scientist logo

Regional supporters:


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