The process was extremely successful, creating lots of ideas which are currently being refined and distilled into our CRC extension bid. Other ideas will be pursued in the context of the broader activities of futureCAST.
George Collins , CEO, CAST

The CAST Cooperative Research Centre (CAST CRC) was established in 1992 through the Australian Government’s CRC Programme. CAST CRC is recognised as a strategic asset to the Australian Metals Industry through partnerships developed between complementary groups within Australia's research, industry, education and government sectors. The major CAST CRC stakeholders also includeSME suppliers and component manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers, the aerospace industry, and research and education providers. Additionally, over 80 engineers and scientists work cooperatively within CAST projects at major nodes in Brisbane, Geelong, Gladstone and Melbourne, Australia.

The futureCAST Challenge was commissioned by George Collins, Chief Executive Officer of CAST CRC. The strategic objective of the Challenge was to seek ideas on the priority areas and projects that CAST should address as it transitions from the CRC model to an independent facilitator of innovation in the metals and manufacturing sectors. Given the varied nature of the CAST CRC stakeholders distributed over a broad geographic region, the accessibility that an online collaboration jam allows was a major benefit to achieve these objectives.

George states “as part of CAST's broader strategy to secure our future, we are preparing a proposal to extend our CRC funding.  As part of these preparations, we have been collecting lots of ideas on the challenges that we should address, the opportunities we should exploit, and the projects we should pursue over the next five years.”

The futureCAST Jam was held from 12th April to the 5th May 2010 to build engagement across the industry and research groups associated with the CAST CRC, as part of a broader strategy to define CAST’s role and activities into the future. In total 114 CAST CRC stakeholders were invited to participate, including researchers, industry representatives, workshop attendees and friends of CAST.

Participants were asked to respond to six challenge questions under the general theme of discoveringnew ideas for the future of CAST, by posting their own ideas, and adding comments and/or votes to ideas posted by others. Due to the novelty of this form of web-based collaboration for CAST, and the diversity of stakeholders involved, the Challenge questions were designed to be simple and concise, with a focus on seeking ideas and opinions in a transparent, constructive manner.

Overall the futureCAST Challenge generated 98 substantial new ideas, 66 comments and 571 votes. Of the total group invited to participate the overall challenge engagement rate was 63%.Additional contributions were made via a series of concurrent workshops held in parallel to the online jam challenge, to brainstorm opportunities and potential focus areas.

Five emergent themes or ‘idea clusters’ were identified to collectively provide a ‘conceptual home’ for all 98 ideas captured in the jam. The themes have been developed to provide input into CAST’s forthcoming bid for CRC extension funding, as well as capturing additional initiatives that may be undertaken outside the CRC model in the future.