Nicholas Gruen

Nicholas Gruen
  • Title: CEO | Lateral Economics
  • Company: Lateral Economics


One of the most entertaining, imaginative and rigorous thinkers of economics, innovation, government and society, Dr Nicholas Gruen is a crowd favourite having keynoted on five continents to sizeable audiences.

A current investor in numerous international start-ups he brings a breadth of vision and experience to his presentations.

He is CEO of Lateral Economics, Visiting Professor at Kings College London Policy Institute and Adjunct Professor at UTS Business School, Chair of the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australia) and Patron of the Australian Digital Alliance.

He has advised two Cabinet Ministers, taught at ANU and sat on the Productivity Commission from 1993 to 1997 and worked within the Business Council of Australia.

He chaired The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) from 2010 to 2016, the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia in 2013-14 and in 2009 chaired the Government 2.0 Taskforce.

A brilliant man who deserves to be better known
Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Writer, Financial Times, London

Surrounded by new devices, systems, applications – a world of technological abundance – there is always one resource in scarce supply; not technology, but technological imagination. Nicholas Gruen has that imagination in abundance and he wants government to share it, to be in his words an impresario.
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

Australia’s foremost public intellectual
Lindsay Tanner, Former Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Nicholas Gruen never fails to intrigue, amuse and, most importantly, to make us think. Truly well informed and with a strong sense of history, Nicholas is one of Australia’s best ideas-people with a gift for making thinking exciting. I never get tired of listening to him weave his words into grand tapestries, well supported with contemporary experience that delivers many an ‘aha’ Moment.
Pru Goward, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women.


From the marketplace, to research, right throughout organisations in all sectors, it’s much easier to skim the surface than to really understand what’s happening or what should happen. So opinion polls, vox pops and focus groups go in search of immediate opinion at different levels of detail, but rarely find out how people navigate challenges to their opinions or trade off one value against another. Likewise in the management of organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, the expression ‘evidence-based practice’ rolls off the tongue easily. But even those calling for it almost invariably don’t know how difficult it is. A culture of radical truthfulness is necessary – even if not sufficient – which is why the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Auditor General are independent of ministerial direction. Taking this logic to its logical conclusion, I elaborate the case for an Evaluator General which could help facilitate the transition to evidence-based practice. Like the self-monitoring and self-starting of Toyota’s production teams on the line, it would institutionalise a structural separation between the ‘brain’ and the ‘brawn’ within organisations to help build the organisation’s transparency to outsiders on the transparency of those in the field to themselves.