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They say necessity is the mother of invention. From the iconic Hills Hoist and Victa lawnmower to modern day breakthroughs such as the Flow Beehive and the Burqini, Aussie inventors have drawn inspiration from their everyday lives. And turned a big idea into big business.

Sydney woman, Aheda Zanetti, inventor of the Burqini swimwear range had her lightbulb moment after watching her young niece play netball. She wore a skivvy and long pants because there was no alternative for Muslim girls who wanted to dress modestly and participate in an active, Aussie lifestyle.

“She finished the game as red as a tomato,” says Aheda.

So she went home and searched the internet for suitable sportswear, without any luck. That’s when she decided to make the garments herself, sewing by hand on her lounge-room floor.

I was a mum with three babies under three and no money, but I didn’t want anyone to tell me not to do it,” she says. That was back in 2004 and her determination paid off.

Orders flew in from the UK, US and Europe. Then Surf Lifesaving Australia approached her to design a special Burqini to encourage Muslim girls to become lifeguards. Today she produces 5,000 garments a month and exports globally.

Innovation in our DNA

Australia consistently ranks in the top 20 globally for innovation.

In the 21st century, Aussies are pushing boundaries and making everyday life easier for countless others. But first you must identify a need.

Research has found that industries with the best growth potential in Australia include health and medical technology, transport, digital technology and sport. These feature among some of our most successful inventions, such as the Cochlear bionic ear, Penicillin, the black-box flight recorder and home WiFi.

Finding finance

You also need money to get your idea off the ground. When Aheda started out, she had to apply for a credit card with a $7000 limit to purchase her first fabrics.

These days it’s much easier to source finance. You could start your search at the federal government’sbusiness portal. The Victorian government also has a useful guide to sources of finance, including Angel finance, venture capital and crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding uses an online platform to raise small amounts of money from individuals that can quickly add up. In fact, the most successful crowdfunding campaign outside the US happened on the sleepy NSW North Coast with Cedar Anderson’s Flow Hive.

Follow your passion

Cedar Anderson is a third generation beekeeper. As a child, he felt bad about bees being crushed when he collected their honey. He also hated being bitten. So he and his dad, Stuart, started searching for a better way.

The result was the Flow Hive, the biggest thing in beekeeping since 1852. To manufacture the hive and get it to market they needed what seemed to them an impossible sum of $100,000AUD. So they started a crowdfunding campaign in February 2015. Within 15 minutes they had attracted US$250,000. By April 2015 they had shipped 20,000 kits to more than 140 countries.

A really good idea is unstoppable, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks along the way.

In the early days, some of Aheda’s customers were removed from council pools for wearing “inappropriate” clothing. Undaunted, she negotiated permission for her swimsuits from local councils.

When asked what advice she would give to someone just starting out with a bright idea and the will to succeed, Aheda says success comes down to the three P’s: passion, persistence and patience.

“It’s hard work, but if you believe in something don’t give up”.

Even if you are working on a new idea on your own, you are not alone. There’s a wealth of assistance on offer for start-ups and entrepreneurs through the ‘National Innovation and Science Agenda’. The Federal Government also has a handy grant finder and help in getting your big idea to market here.


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