Charlie is an experienced entrepreneur and astute businessman, who over the course of his career has experienced both great success and at times failures. Charlie is now a highly-regarded philanthropist and CERI’s Founder.
Charlie completed his B.Sc. in Geology at Michigan Technological University, followed by a M.Sc in Mining Engineering & Mineral Processing at Queen’s University, Canada. His introduction to leading-edge software and the earliest graphics hardware began when hired by Amax Inc in 1976. He worked within a group called “operations research” which utilised computing for engineering, scientific and technical tasks, at a time when computers were primarily used for accounting and payroll. This American mining company eventually sent him to Australia.
From Amax, Charlie established his first company, Perth-based Metech Pty Ltd in 1980. This was an exploration and mining software company with leading-edge software that Metech sold and Charlie used for his consulting roles. This provided him with the opportunity to see and experience what many exploration and mining companies, both large and small, had to go through to be successful, as well as what caused failures. This experience base gave Charlie his skill set for the two Western Australian exploration companies he would later establish, Eagle Mining Corporation (Eagle) and Aquila Resources.
Charlie co-founded Eagle and was responsible for the deal that led to the discovery of the very successful Nimary Gold Mine. Eagle came out of the ashes of a company that was suspended from trading on the ASX and $1 million in debt. Eagle won both Explorer of the Year and then Developer of the Year at Diggers and Dealers.
Following the hostile takeover of ASX-listed Eagle, Charlie had the financial resources available to allow him to set up Blazing Wireless, a group of American and Canadian telecommunication engineers looking at disruptive technology in the burgeoning internet industry in the late 1990s. Charlie’s intention was to come up with high speed wireless broadband for the 300 plus US towns with populations between 100,000 and 500,000 not being served with optic fibre and restricted to slow dial-up or ADSL service. Rather than competing with existing telcos and equipment manufacturers, Blazing Wireless focused on the then untapped high frequency spectrum and designed its own equipment and delivery system. Just as major venture capital funding was about to come across the table, the dotcom crash of 2000 occurred and the investment was never made. As a result, Charlie was unable to continue running Blazing Wireless.
Charlie then co-founded Aquila Resources Ltd with Tony Poli in 2000 and helped transition it from a gold explorer to iron ore and coal. During the early years of Aquila, Charlie was also involved with a Toronto-based company, ESI Ltd; initially as an investor before becoming an Executive Director and CEO. ESI was bringing a new airborne geophysical technology to market as well as using it for the company’s own exploration programme. Unfortunately, Charlie had to shut down this company due to the resource market malaise caused by the global financial crisis. This and his experience with Blazing Wireless, taught Charlie a vital lesson on the importance of timing and its impact on success and failure.
The 2014 hostile takeover of Aquila was the opportunity Charlie needed to begin working on CERI. Charlie had long been a believer that education is the greatest gift you can give and had set up The Bass Family Foundation in 2006 to provide education for disadvantaged children, predominantly from rural WA. When he began to identify the many issues facing WA’s future economic stability he knew that education was the answer. In particular, it would be key to resolving the “resources curse” and the disconnect between WA’s top research institutes, universities and industry. With this in mind he began two years of intensive research, discussing these issues with representatives from all sectors and industries. These conversations validated his observations and in 2015 the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation (CERI) was finally established to provide researchers with an opportunity to gain entrepreneurial skills, which could be applied to take their work through the innovation process and on to startup companies and commercialisation.