Telstra is beefing up its Gurrowa Innovation Lab in Melbourne in an apparent bid to drive more output from the nascent “skunkworks” capability.
The telco launched the Melbourne-based lab in August last year, comparing it to the “skunkworks” operations of Lockheed Martin in the 1940s and the homebrew computing club of the 1970s.
Gurrowa is intended to act as a space full of tools that Telstra staff can use to innovate and solve customer challenges.
It aimed to particularly focus on championing complex challenges and become the birthplace of “big ideas” for Telstra.
While it is unclear whether the facility has achieved its lofty aims to date, it appears Telstra is ready to bring in a team of people to help Gurrowa capitalise on its potential.
Over the past month, it has sought to bring on board an “innovation hacker”, design specialist and community manager to elevate its output and standing.
A Telstra spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Gurrowa’s growth plans.
However, the telco has revealed significant details that shed light on the direction it wants to take Gurrowa.
The innovation hacker it is bringing on is intended to act as a kind of “growth hacker” for Gurrowa – supporting “innovation teams in running mini campaigns to communicate and test various value propositions and innovations to the market”, Telstra has indicated.
They will be there to provide tactical support to innovation project teams, create “solution showcases for various innovation sprints and workshops”, and to assist with collateral for innovation projects.
Gurrowa is also hiring a design specialist to support the lab’s prototyping team “by rapidly designing user interfaces for a variety of device formats in order to test and demonstrate various innovations.”
The specialist is intended to help “conceptualise, strategise, design and develop prototypes within the context of the Telstra Gurrowa Lab innovation projects", with a focus on “enhancing the usability, accessibility and overall look and feel of prototypes”.
And finally, the labs are bringing in a community manager to build an “active community” around Gurrowa, suggesting a desire for integration with the wider start-up and entrepreneurial communities.
The labs already host events that are attracting external developer talent.
Last weekend, Gurrowa played host to the Telstra Cloud Hackathon, a joint weekend-long event in cooperation with Amazon Web Services.
Telstra and AWS collaborated on a similar hackathon earlier this year, albeit with a much smaller prize.
This time around, Telstra awarded $10,000 in prize money to three teams. A team called ‘C4J’ took out first place with a creation called ‘Textmas Tree’, described simply as a “way to connect with loved ones over the holidays”.
Second place was awarded to a shopping app designed to share the experience with friends, and third went to a shopping app that takes advantage of augmented reality.
A Telstra spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on the hackathon winners.