Case study from: Stimulating business investment in innovation
GreenBe’s innovation journey demonstrates the importance of investing in both non-R&D innovation and R&D, and the critical role government procurement played in the organisation’s success.
GreenBe Software is an innovative startup which has thrived by leveraging the opportunities in the regional Australian city of Newcastle. The value it offers customers is bespoke software solutions to difficult problems using a range of innovative technologies.
GreenBe initially developed game-style rewards to create behavioural shifts by measuring the waste in people’s bins and incentivising diversion from landfill. However, without a strong appetite in government for a smart home waste management system there was no market for the product and the company had to look to alternative applications.
At this pivotal point the company decided to invest in non-R&D innovation, shifted its business model and introduced a service aspect to its business offer—rather than offering a product, it offered solutions. It saw the value in engaging with customers to iterate their offering to individual solutions for clients.
GreenBe’s clients, predominantly local government and the utilities sector, contracted the company to create customer-facing software that encourages positive behavioural shifts. For example, a utility company has employed GreenBe to create a solution that, in real-time, incentivises reduced energy use. This is particularly valuable to electricity retailers as a tool to reduce demand when the grid is under pressure. This type of service offers mutual benefits to customers and the service provider.
GreenBe was founded without assistance from external investors or accelerators. Instead, the company directed its effort towards attracting clients to grow from its core business. The turning point was a local government procurement. This opportunity brought in revenue and enabled GreenBe to develop useful intellectual property and, most importantly, build a positive reputation.
GreenBe is now a strong advocate for the mutual benefits of government procuring from small, local technology start-ups.
- Early opportunities to perform work for government clients were critical to GreenBe’s success. They provided necessary revenue, in addition to a supported opportunity to develop intellectual property and capability.
- The credibility of government clients assisted GreenBe to grow its reputation and provided a valuable springboard for other opportunities. In particular, government experience was a critical gateway to securing opportunities to work in the private sector.
- Government procurement of start-ups and SMEs in the technology space provides a critical opportunity for these businesses to demonstrate and grow their capacity.