The Hunter Innovation Festival (HIF) is a not-for-profit initiative, which aims to connect, inspire and promote a culture of innovation amongst Hunter businesses, industries and communities.
HIF was established in 2002 and began as an associated event of The Australian Innovation Festival as a national event to showcase Australian innovation. Since 2002 the festival has evolved and each year has been run by a dedicated group of volunteers who make up the local ecosystem. This year local innovation focused not for profit Hunter iF took the lead on the festival and appointed a festival coordinator to work with members of the local ecosystem to deliver the festival. A key focus for HIF19 was to progress and strengthen the organisation of the festival with a particular focus on promotion and awareness.
The 2019 Hunter Innovation Festival (HIF19) was all about connecting all people in the Hunter that produce, invest or consume innovation in any way. It aimed to provide people with the opportunity to connect with each other, new ideas and be inspired to take the next step in their innovation journey. HIF19 was intended to be fun and approachable and attract a wide audience, particularly those who hadn’t connected with the industry before. We aimed to break the ‘Techy’ standard for innovation and have a festival that was young, fun and relevant.
HIF19 included an expanded program of events; a grant program to support small events; a full time Festival Coordinator; and improved governance processes. Christina Gerakiteys, a long time driver of the festival, was appointed as the inaugural Festival Champion Connector. Her role was all about enabling greater participation in the local innovation ecosystem, with a particular focus on first time attendees.
The 12 day program included 45 events and activities across a range of different industries. Events ranged from workshops, interactive sessions, performances, installations, speaker events and more. Many of the events highlighted the innovation that is happening within the region; and many others provided attendees with new skills and knowledge to enhance their business. The broad program resulted in a wide range of attendees with the majority attending the festival for the first time.
HIF19 received significant local media coverage before, during and after the festival. The majority of coverage was received through the Newcastle Herald and local radio stations @NURFM and ACB radio.
The general awareness of HIF19 was increased by promoting it through a number of different platforms including:
HIF social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
HIF mailing lists with weekly EDMs
City of Newcastle
University of Newcastle's Integrated Innovation Network
Hunter Research Foundation Centre
Hunter Business Review
The Newcastle Herald
Various festival event organisers
A Various council event pages throughout the Hunter
Spark Festival e-newsletter
Hunter Hunter e-newsletter
North Sydney Innovation Network Channels
All of the events were well attended with the majority meeting or exceeding the event organisers expectations. The atmosphere and energy at every event was really positive with the majority of event organisers have reported that genuine connections were made. HIF19 provided many opportunities for people to connect with new people and new ideas.
More than 2800 event registrations were received across the program of events
The majority of attendees (2168) registered through a dedicated HIF Eventbrite account. A series of questions were included in the registration form and resulted in the following:
2168 people registered for events through this system
357 of these were male (17%), 453 were female (21%), 1358 left this question blank (62%)
199 of these have attended a HIF before (9%), 767 had not attended a HIF before (36%), 1202 left this blank (55%)
More information will be available in the second half of 2019 in regards to the 2020 Hunter Innovation Festival. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be involved. Get in contact here.
In addition to the festival, there are so many things happening throughout the year that provide support for entrepreneurs, startups and innovative businesses across the Hunter region. Regular innovation related events include workshops, interactive sessions, education seminars, business breakfasts, innovation installations and keynote speakers. The Hunter iF website provides organisations a platform to list any related events for free at hunterif.com.au/events