10 January 2022

Meet David Ireland, one of our founders

Born and raised in Brisbane, Dr David Ireland is an entrepreneur and design and innovation consultant motivated by creating sustainable, meaningful change. Having spent the last 15 years of his life designing, building and implementing initiatives that make a difference, he’s a man who wears many hats. With a spectacular list of achievements, innovations and career highlights, David is consistently trying to tackle the ‘world’s biggest challenges’, whether that’s assisting CSIRO with removing carbon from the atmosphere or working as a consultant to governments, NGOs and the private sector.

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Having spent over seven years in tertiary education, David studied at the University of Queensland to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Drug Design and Development, Business Management and Science with Honours. He then completed a dual science and business PhD at UQ that focused on understanding innovation and how technology focused companies and industries grow. Authoring 13 peer-reviewed academic papers, David was awarded the Dean’s award for outstanding thesis. After graduating, David rounded his academic career off by being employed as a postdoctoral researcher, helping to develop an anti-cancer drug and develop the use of cyclic peptides.

David can trace his passion and influence for lifelong learning back to his mother, who was a teacher. He was also raised by an entrepreneurial father, which catapulted him into the world of business.

As a natural leader, David has founded or co-founded a handful of innovation-focused businesses since graduating from tertiary education. Initially co-founding an edible-seaweed growing company in 2009, David’s sights have recently been set on making waves in the sustainability space.

In 2019, David co-founded both The Growth Drivers and Radian Energy, two companies that strive to transform the landscape when it comes to sustainable approaches. The Growth Drivers was brought to life when David realised the businesses around him weren’t getting the support they needed to solve their complex challenges.

The Growth Drivers is a transdisciplinary solutions agency that confronts today’s most pressing issues head-first – from climate change, to waste reduction, David and his far-reaching global network are wired to streamline growth and empowerment for businesses and movements of all shapes and sizes.

The Growth Drivers have worked with materials experts to invent a new biodegradable and compostable alternative to single-use plastics, agricultural experts to design new ear tags for cattle, and movers and shakers in the world of start-ups and venture funding. By merging technical experts with behavioural sciences, innovation and design thinking, The Growth Drivers are quickly becoming known for their pulse on usability and user ability.

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David is also firmly focused on his work with Radian Energy. Aiming to disrupt the fossil fuel industry and lure people towards renewable energy, Radian Energy provides customers with green or carbon-offset electricity. Always moving toward the bigger picture, David also helped build Zero Positive, a not-for-profit that helps schools make the transition to the renewable economy.

Before diving headfirst into entrepreneurship, David worked with UniQuest to help researchers turn their ideas into impact, led innovation policy and international activities for the CSIRO, intellectual property with Uniquest, identified issues that could impact government politics with the Australian Federal Government, acted as Council member of the Aquacelerator with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, worked with the Macquarie University Research Centre for Smart Green Cities, transformed complex systems with ThinkPlace and reviewed the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s recycling product program.

In 2015, David co-founded Rocking Horse Group, a market-leading financial service business that helps innovative firms accelerate their growth through simple financing solutions. Two short years later, he co-founded ThinkAction, a Washington DC-based division of the ThinkPlace Global Association.

He also joined and remains a Board Member of NSW Circular (where he contributes to finding innovative solutions to reduce and reuse waste), as well as being a Governor of WWF Australia. David is also an adjunct professor in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law since 2017, which gives him great pleasure.

For David, his two kids are his muse to working toward a better future. Wherever David’s compass point, he’s moved by the notion of creating something that has a positive impact.
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