Last night I participated in a panel at the City of Sydney’s CityTalk event on how to inspire and nurture innovation in Sydney. It’s an important topic; we have the ability to be one of those cities that everyone around the world dreams of moving to someday, but we have a bit of work to do to get there.

My fellow panelists included Hael Kobayashi, Chair of Digital Sydney, Ann Mossop of the Sydney Opera House, Mark Scott of the ABC, David Vandenberg of the Fishburners co-working communities, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP.

The conversation ranged from the importance of proximity and physical spaces in bringing great people and ideas together; to how we can encourage a culture in Australia that’s more comfortable with failure and experimentation; to the role that digital platforms play in not only giving us access to the world but in driving us to interact more in person at our city’s amazing public spaces, cultural institutions, events, and festivals.

We need to get Sydney on the “hot list” of cities that are building the future by making Sydney a world capital of digital innovation. Sydney is full of creativity and technology but we need to connect the two better. We already have the key ingredients: top talent, world-class educational institutions, ambitious people and potent investors. We’re investing in the high speed broadband infrastructure that powers global reach. We’re big enough to accomplish big things on the world stage, but we’re also small enough that even a couple of people with a great idea can have a big impact.

But we need to work on a couple of things to become that world capital and to be able to proudly promote it to the world. One is creating the “Silicon Beach” -- where not only are technology entrepreneurs building new global businesses, but our talented creative community is leveraging new technology platforms to reach the world. The other area is investing in our people -- not just in education and training, but in a new cultural mindset that’s built for the new reality of a globally connected, fast-moving economy.

For more, you can read my op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Posted by Nick Leeder, Managing Director, Google Australia & New Zealand