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Disrupting from the inside out

Disrupting from the inside out

If there’s one word that can strike fear into the heart of an established CEO, it’s ‘disruptor’.

Disruption is a buzzword that applies to an entire subset of companies and entrepreneurs, who aim to find new ways of offering a product or service that changes the business model of existing industries.

Think Uber or AirBnB that tranformed taxi's and holiday accomodation.

Incubating ideas

The reason these companies are able to disrupt the market (and make money out of it) is because they look at an existing model with fresh eyes, and target a service or need that’s not being met.

People looking at brochures


To combat stale thinking and ensure they don’t get left behind by the changing marketplace, more and more Australian companies are establishing innovation labs; departments responsible for incubating ideas from other start-ups, trying out new models and making sure that customers are actually getting products and experiences they want - rather than the one’s companies think they should have.

Here are three of the most exciting innovation labs in Australia right now, each taking a different approach …


Telstra-backed start-up accelerator Muru-d works with entrepreneurs and founders who think outside the box.

The idea behind the lab is to enable big ideas to get off the ground with the backing of an established company such as Telstra.

The program provides start-ups with the financial and professional backing they need to achieve their goals, connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and contacts along the way.

“Change the world, we’ll show you how,” reads the Muru-d slogan.

With over 80 start-ups having been supported by the program, including one that is changing the way we look at livestock production and another that focuses on underwater assets – Muru-d is reaching way past the traditional scope of Telstra.

Robot arm

Commbank innovation lab

Commonwealth Bank’s innovation lab is a celebration of what can happen when technology meets crowd-sourced ideas.

Visitors to the lab are able to interact with real-time data, and work with Commbank project teams to test out new experiments.

The lab, one of three worldwide, focuses on incubating the next generation of technology and customer-led innovations including Blockchain, robotics and virtual reality.

Firemark labs 

Firemark Labs Sydney, is an incubator established by IAG (Insurance Australia Group) in order to ensure it remains focussed on the changing needs of its customers.

“The future of customer experience will be shaped through new technologies, capabilities and a willingness to experiment,” Julie Batch, IAG Chief Customer Officer said.

“It’s critical to our growth strategy that we build and connect with innovation ecosystems that bring together universities, entrepreneurs and business, along with the regulators and government, who can help us evolve.”

Firemark Labs partnerships include, The University of Sydney, cyber security start-up UpGuard and renting re-imagined start-up Snug, to co-create new products and access new markets.

What makes Firemark Labs unique is the combination of partnering with startups to embed capability and technology into internal projects, backing startups as they launch new products and even investing in selected start-ups.

Office lab

Bold and savvy

When the fresh, bold thinking of start-up philosophy meets the business savvy and financial security of major corporate players, truly inspiring things can happen, which is why corporate innovation labs are the perfect breeding ground for the next generation of ideas.

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