Making a monster: Demo Day arrives for the R9 Accelerator

For the last three months, there has been this collaboration of people from public and private sectors going on called R9 Accelerator. It’s a bit like Frankenstein’s Accelerator monster – it’s a mishmash of a Creative HQ Lightning Lab model and government sewn together and brought to life to try and solve gnarly government problems.

The recipe for the monster is as follows:

  • Take a list of problems experienced by businesses when interacting with government
  • Add a bunch of innovative, clever, motivated (and completely awesome) people from private and public sectors
  • Mix together with Lean Startup Methodology, mentorship and pour into a creative co-working space
  • Cook for three months
  • Then at exactly 3pm 2 June 2016, let the monster out of the lab and unleash it on an audience of 300 people in an event called Demo Day

*Important note: provide your audience beautiful pamphlets not pitchforks.

Being a monster is not a bad thing.

Monsters challenge preconceptions. They make observers look at themselves and question the status quo.

A monster creates enduring change.

R9 Accelerator creates change in two ways.

First – some of the teams will go on to implement their amazing, clever solutions and make it easier for business customers when interacting with government.

Second – some of the audience will go away from Demo Day with the knowledge that government can work in different ways. It can be lean; it can work more closely with private sector, it can get out and talk to its customers in an easier way. Big change can be achieved in small steps.

But to the audience on Demo Day, I imagine it felt more wondrous than monstrous.


Minister Stephen Joyce, guest speaker at R9 Accelerator Demo Day

The venue – the Embassy Theatre – was beautiful. The guest speakers – including Ministers Foss and Joyce and Nick Gerritsen – provided context and were inspirational. The teams’ pitches – ranging from a new way of assessing skills for tech sector migrants to digitising forms that give bookkeepers the authority to act on behalf of their clients – were well-rehearsed and packed punch.

Frankenstein suited up and was looking sharp.

This was due to the incredibly hard work of the staff organising the event, and the teams who did all of the hard slog to ensure they would have something to pitch at Demo Day. 


Event staff manning the reception at Demo Day

And now it’s over, and we’re discovering that although we spent three months thinking of Demo Day as a finish line, it was just part of the marathon.

Teams are looking for funding to continue prototyping their solutions. The organising team is starting to evaluate the results of our experiment and thinking of ways to further refine the monster.

But I hope it never gets too polished. R9 Accelerator should push boundaries and never be completely safe.

There needs to be room for monsters in government.


R9 Accelerator teams on stage, made possible by our partners and sponsors