Technology eco-systems

The development, adoption and diffusion of technological innovation in the Australian METS and mining sector occurs within an ecosystem of stakeholders, connected via networks, and surrounded by the institutional environment. For a new technology to be successful, key innovation processes need to happen. For METS firms, it is crucial to gain a sound understanding of the innovation system which surrounds their technological development. This helps firms understand which environmental conditions they are subject to, and whether key innovation processes are favourable, or will hinder their technology development and diffusion efforts.

Our research has developed a tailored evaluation framework and diagnostic tool to help METS firms understand the technology ecosystem in which they operate; and to assist them to successfully manage technology transformation across the mining ecosystem.  We have also created industry-relevant material about ecosystem dynamics including videos, case studies of Queensland METS firms and industry fact sheets explaining our key findings.

Innovation in the METS sector

We conducted in-depth interviews with Queensland METS firms to discover how they overcame barriers affecting the diffusion of new technology across the mining ecosystem.  See how in this 4-minute video:

In the video below, we show how technological innovation systems can be a helpful lens to look at technology development and uptake, by examining how the broader ecosystem looks and behaves:

Resources – Innovation System Map for Australian METS firms

What is a technological innovation system?

The mining industry itself is an innovation system – comprising of innovative METS firms, researchers, mining corporations, industry associations, and the like. When operating well, these stakeholders in the innovation system form networks with each other to exchange trends and developments, and to open doors to potential collaborators and customers. All this occurs within the surrounding institutional environment made up of regulations and laws, but also industry norms and organisational routines. Stakeholders, their networks, and institutions form the structure of an innovation system.

However, the mining industry is not just one big innovation system – it can be viewed as a range of overlapping technological innovation systems. Any new technology is developed within its own technological innovation system – for example, in technological fields such as predictive maintenance, fatigue monitoring, or remote continuous condition monitoring. Within a technological innovation system, there are usually variations in the technology developed – such as different technological approaches to provide a solution to a problem. Often different companies are active within one technological innovation system. Nonetheless, these varieties of technology are developed and marketed within the same or similar technological innovation system.

Innovation processes for successful technology development and diffusion

For a new technology to be successful, it is not only the structure of an innovation system that matters – there is also a range of key innovation processes that need to occur to drive technology development and diffusion, and to overcome potential barriers to success. Our Innovation System Map for Australian METS firms outlines key innovation processes necessary, alongside with the system structure. If these processes are fulfilled, there is a good chance for success – if key innovation processes fail or are under-developed, technology development and uptake will likely face difficulties.

Innovation System Map for Australian METS firms














How can the Innovation System Assessment Tool help METS firms?

The CMBI Innovation System Assessment Tool is an interactive online tool for Australian METS firms. A METS firm can use this tool to evaluate the technological innovation system in which they operate. This includes assisting firms with evaluating:

  • the knowledge development and exchange processes occurring in their technological field
  • the maturity of the market into which their innovation is entering
  • the availability of and access to resources that are needed to support their technology development and diffusion activities
  • potential social acceptance issues, and difficulty with integration into existing routines and structures

After completion of the tool, a METS firm will be provided with a report highlighting which innovation processes function well, and which not so well. The report also presents actions METS firms can undertake to influence innovation processes.

Get started and use the tool now

The purpose of this tool is to assess how well the innovation system in which your technology is being developed supports your technology development goals. When using the tool, please think about the broader technological field you are working in, not just your firm’s specific technology.

The first question of the tool asks you to specify the stage of development of your technological field:

R&D Stage

This technological field is at the research and/or development stage, but not yet at the demonstration stage. Technical feasibility or proof of concept might have been demonstrated in analytical or laboratory studies, but the entire technology is yet to be demonstrated as a whole piece of technology in a real-world relevant environment. Additional R&D is required to develop the technology further and to solve a range of technological issues.

Technology demonstration stage

Technological feasibility of this type of technology has been demonstrated, but there are no commercial applications yet. At this stage, the focus is on demonstrating that the technology works as expected in environments of relevance to real word settings. As such, prototyping, pilots and/or demonstration projects in real-world settings are occurring. Additional R&D will be necessary to adapt the technology to commercial applications, to improve performance in operational environments, and for scaling-up if relevant.

Early market entry stage

The technology has entered the market or is ready to do so. The technology has been demonstrated to work in real-world settings, but it is likely that there is still development work required to scale or optimise the technology for commercial applications. Nonetheless, the technology is at an early commercial stage.  The current market is still small and there are very few customers.

Market growth stage

The technology is largely developed and has proven to work well in commercial real-world applications. Developments in the field are likely to be incremental and focus on optimising the technology or customizing for specific contexts or customer types. Initial niche markets are being expanded to scale up the adoption and diffusion of this type of technology – or this has already occurred and a relatively large market for this type of technology is established.

Start the METS Innovation System Assessment Tool

Our METS Innovation System Assessment Tool will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.  Click the image below to start, and press the blue SUBMIT tab to progress through the survey:

digital abstract for toolkit
METS Innovation System Assessment Tool

Fact Sheets

These fact sheets and case studies summarise the key research findings from our Technology Eco-Systems Program


Mining Technology Innovation Systems: An Evaluation Framework

The success of a METS firm’s innovation depends on its successful adoption and diffusion in the mining sector. This is not always a smooth process with a range of stakeholders and external factors who may block technology adoption. Our industry fact sheet offers a resource to identify key drivers, barriers and stakeholders as well as strategies to overcome barriers.







METS challenges and successes: Diffusion and adoption of technology across the mining sector

Innovative research has the potential to advance the efficiency and safety of mining operations. However, the development and commercialisation of new technologies by often resource-constrained start-ups is a challenging process. Our industry fact sheet outlines the successful journey of the fatigue monitoring technology Life by SmartCap.






Innovation System Assessment Tool

The CMBI Innovation System Assessment Tool assists Australian METS firms with evaluating the technological innovation system they operate in, helps to identify bottlenecks in the ecosystem, and outlines actions METS firms can utilise to improve success in technology development and uptake.






Case Studies

We have developed in-depth Case Studies, looking at how different Australian METS companies have overcome challenges to succeed in the diffusion and adoption of their innovative products across the mining sector.



  • Dr Stephen Cox

    Stephen Cox completed a PhD in social psychology at the University of Queensland. After completing the PhD, he owned and operated a statistical consulting company. Since returning to academia, research interests have been on the functioning of global value chains, having published papers on the digital video game industry, and...

  • Dr Jan Gruenhagen

    Jan Henrik Gruenhagen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Business Innovation at QUT Business School. He currently works on projects about technology transformation across the mining and METS sector and the functioning of technological innovation systems. This research investigates innovation processes...