Great minds come together to spearhead innovation

Over 500 people came together yesterday at the Hunter Innovation Festival to put their collective heads together and talk innovation, collaboration and how we can create a socially, physically and environmentally prosperous future for the Hunter region. 

The one-day conference and exhibition participants took inspiration from the event’s four keynote speakers including Australian business and finance leader and Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road Home Loans Mark Bouris AM, NSW Modern Manufacturing Commissioner Lisa Emerson, 2021 Newcastle Citizen of the Year and 2023 NAIDOC Person of the Year, Professor Kelvin Kong, and Simon Byrnes, Port of Newcastle’s Chief Commercial Officer. 

Festival Chair Alex Brennan said there were so many lessons learnt and inspiration taken from not just the keynote speakers, but everyone who took part in the hundreds of formal and informal discussions throughout the day. 

“Mark Bouris talked about how as a species, we have an innate need to fix inefficiencies. I loved how he encouraged us to do this by being curious, researching and finding solutions, and talking to people about how you can bring your idea to life. That’s exactly what we aim to do through the Hunter Innovation Festival.” 

The Festival also heard from NSW’s first ever Modern Manufacturing Commissioner, Lisa Emerson, who presented her mission in supporting the manufacturing sector, especially since the sector is experiencing a decline in recent years and shifts to newer sectors. While Prof Kelvin Kong gave an enthralling insight into the more surgical aspects of innovation, particularly in vitro surgery and oncology medicine. 

“As a region we underestimate our significance as a proxy to other emerging cities, who are following our example of how to embrace innovation, harness new economies and create a more sustainable future for our region. 

“What was great to see was the diverse range of industries and sectors at this year’s festival. We had everything from EV cars on display, to digital invoicing, tech recruitment, novel home energy ideas, health innovation and of course, clean energy solutions,” Mr Brennan said. 

Mr Brennan said the 2023 festival will officially conclude on October 27 with an Action Summit to develop an actionable project plan with measurable outcomes for delivery over the year ahead. 

“Following the 2022 Hunter Innovation Festival, one of the themes that came from the Action Summit was the need to take the festival beyond Newcastle; recognising that advances are being made in many sectors right throughout the Hunter. That’s why this year’s festival included a five-day roadshow which travelled from Muswellbrook, Singelton, Port Stephens, Maitland and Lake Macquarie from 9-13 October.  

I’m excited to see what outcomes are derived from this year’s Action Summit.”