In Awards by Clyde Mooney

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The Australian Financial Review this week released its venerated list of innovative companies, featuring those “at the cutting edge” of their sectors.

For the first time, the list has included a music company, with Brisbane-based music provider Nightlife securing #26 in the revered Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in Australia & New Zealand.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) Innovative Companies list is judged and compiled by consultancy firm Inventium. More than 1,000 submissions were received this year, judges assessing candidates on both the merits of two recent innovations, as well as the company’s culture of innovation.

Nightlife began 26 years’ ago when “a DJ and an engineer walked into a bar”. The company’s goal has always been to provide hospitality venues customised music without the need for a full-time DJ.

crowdDJ kiosk

In assessment, Nightlife was judged on the innovation of its in-venue request app ‘crowdDJ’, and its work providing businesses a conduit for playing Spotify music through a commercially licensed media player. These services leverage the music provider’s proven direct correlation between customer engagement through music and increased patron dwell time.

Employing over 100 staff, investigation of the company’s culture involved anonymous surveys with more than 50 employees.

Describing itself as a ‘mix of art and science’, Nightlife is the dominant player in delivering music and visuals in licensed premises around Australia, and recently announced plans to begin expansion of services overseas, incorporating their partnership with electronics giant AOPEN.

“It’s wonderful for our team’s efforts to be recognised in this way,” responds CEO David O’Rourke.

“Music is something the whole world loves. crowdDJ and our on-brand curation shows the commercial impact when you give people a meaningful experience in your business.”

The Top 50 Most Innovative Companies typically heralds ideas likely to influence future commerce in their respective sectors.

2017 saw the crowns for both Top Overall Innovation and Top Product Innovation go to M&C Saatchi and its design consultancy Tricky Jigsaw, for its NRMA Fire Blanket sensor network. CHE Proximity scored Top Marketing Innovation for a short film that is a Cochlear Hearing Test in disguise and has a different ending depending on the viewer’s hearing ability.

L-R: Mark Brownlee (Nightlife co-founder and managing director), Vicki Brownlee (co-founder), Phil Brown (GM sales & marketing)

The full 2017 Top 50 list

  1. M&C Saatchi. Media, Marketing & Advertising – Top overall innovation, Top product innovation
  2. Planet Innovation. Health, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology – Best innovation program
  3. Custom Innovation Co. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution – Best innovation culture
  4. Leo Burnett Sydney. Media, Marketing & Advertising
  5. Aurecon. Professional Services
  6. Deloitte. Professional Services – Most Improved innovative company
  7. CHE Proximity. Media, Marketing & Advertising – Top marketing innovation
  8. Transporting, Postal & Storage
  9. IT & Telecommunications
  10. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution
  11. Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Financial Services
  12. Gilbert + Tobin. Professional Services
  13. AGL Energy. Agriculture & Mining – Top business model innovation
  14. Manufacturing & Construction
  15. Pact Group. Manufacturing & Construction
  16. eBay Australia and New Zealand. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution
  17. Media, Marketing & Advertising
  18. Ausmed Education. Education
  19. Viva Energy Australia. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution
  20. Financial Services
  21. Greatcell Solar. Agriculture & Mining
  22. IT & Telecommunications – Top process innovation
  23. Nestle Australia. FMCG
  24. Service NSW. Government – Top service innovation
  25. Health, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology
  26. Nightlife Music. Media, Marketing & Advertising
  27. Professional Services
  28. Manufacturing & Construction
  29. FMCG
  30. ORIX Australia Corporation. Financial Services
  31. Guild Insurance. Financial Services
  32. Not-for-Profit
  33. Ikon Services Australia. Hospitality
  34. Horizon Power. Government
  35. Tourism Australia. Government
  36. Media, Marketing & Advertising
  37. Financial Services
  38. IE Digital. Professional Services
  39. Oxfam Australia. Not-for-Profit – Top CSR/social innovation
  40. Financial Services
  41. Nova Group. Professional Services
  42. Robert Bird Group. Manufacturing & Construction
  43. AbbVie Australia. Health, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology
  44. The Whiddon Group. Not-for-Profit
  45. Financial Services
  46. CHEP Australia. Retail, Wholesale & Distribution
  47. Financial Services
  48. Media, Marketing & Advertising
  49. Manufacturing & Construction
  50. Brownes Dairy. FMCG