UTS Alumnus named head of CSIRO & NICTA’s new digital research division

1 September 2015

Adrian TurnerUTS Business alumnus and technology entrepreneur Adrian Turner will lead one of the largest digital innovation teams in the world, as the CSIRO’s digital productivity division and NICTA merge to form a new research entity called Data61.

Data61 will be home to more than 300 PhD students, and will focus on digital research and innovation, as announced in a joint statement by Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane and Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull last week.

“So much of our understanding and interaction with the world is underpinned by digital technology and data,” says Turner, following his appointment as Data61’s new head. “It is a fast moving and big growth area for Australia and Australian industry.”

Meet the entrepreneur who built a company that the world’s technology giants rely on.

The appointment marks a return down under for Turner, who has spent the past 18 years in the US since completing his Business degree at UTS in 1997. After ground-breaking work in device security at technology company Philips, in 2004 Turner co-founded of Silicon Valley-based Mocana, a global leader in providing security for ‘smart’ devices and apps for some of the world’s leading technology companies.

In 2014, he co-founded Borondi Group, a company focused on applying emerging technologies across agriculture, mining, water management, transportation and healthcare.

Turner also published the influential 2012 book BlueSky Mining – Building Australia’s Next Billion Dollar Industries, and in 2013 was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, detailing what a fully networked society would mean for businesses.

While it’s a long way from a childhood lessons on the value of creativity, it’s not difficult to see where Turner’s passion for the entrepreneurial came from.

“I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” Turner says. “I think that began when I was busking outside Myer’s department store in Sydney when I was nine or 10, playing Christmas carols on my violin. That was when I first realized that you could do very well if you were a little creative in your thinking.”

After completing his degree at UTS, Turner has maintained strong links with the university, not only through his chairmanship of global not-for-profit organisation Advance, which connects more than 25,000 expatriate Australians from 2006-2011, but is also a member of the UTS Business School’s Industry Advisory Board, and has been recognised as a UTS Luminary, one of the university’s highest honours for alumni.

In March last year Turner also spoke on the Future of Business, at a special UTS Business School event to celebrated the Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, highlighting the importance of entrepreneurialism in Australia’s future economic growth.

“I think at the core of it is going to be entrepreneurialism – and entrepreneurialism is not just about startups but key to every facet of the economy, whether it’s small business, medium business or large business”