Hunter Innovation Festival speaker line up announced

Experts from innovation and engineering, psychology and manufacturing, technology and city planning will all come together at this year’s Hunter IF Hunter Innovation Festival, with speakers today announced for the Wednesday 12 October 2022 event.  

Hunter IF and Hunter Innovation Festival Chair ALEX BRENNAN says the Festival is bringing together a diverse lineup of speakers to inspire attendees to think creatively and apply skills and knowledge they have in different ways. 

“Innovation isn’t just about creating new things, it’s about applying what you have learned in different ways to achieve different outcomes than you have before. We have put together a diverse and engaging line up of speakers that will inspire, challenge and motivate the crowd to do just that. 

“The morning session of the Festival will focus on the future of regional innovation, our renewable energy precinct and how our current industry and infrastructure has created a foundation for a prosperous future in the Hunter. 

Speakers and panellists 

  • Heidi Lee, CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions – Renewable energy industrial precincts, regional decarbonisation and manufacturing
  • Future of regional innovation panel with with Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle Declan Clausen, Ivan Waterfield CEO of HunterNet and Rod Henderson MD of Ampcontrol
  • How does a transitioning economy fuel sustainability panel with Heidi Lee CEO Beyond Zero Emissions, and Simon Byrnes Chief Commercial Officer Port of Newcastle. 

“We will get the crowd energised after lunch with Patagonia native and former head of Lonely Planet, Gus Balbontin. Balbontin worked with leading global companies such as Google X, Nokia and Amazon during his tenure at Lonely Planet on the latest technology, creative cultures and high performing teams and is sharing those experiences and more at the Festival.”

“The afternoon sessions will be spilt into streams with expert speakers followed by lively panel discussions with participants from global companies like Microsoft and Atlassian alongside industry, business and government.

Highlights of the afternoon session include

  • Fred Reis, CEO Milltech Martin Bright – Sovereign manufacturing’s critical importance to the Hunter
  • Aaron McEwan, RMIT / Gartner  –  How the Hunter can compete on an international scale in the war on talent
  • Lisa Foster, Partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers – How to fund future innovators and infrastructure
  • Adam Clarke, Manager Planning and Policy Energy Corporation NSWWhat’s the Hunter Renewable Energy Zone?
  • Prof Paul Dastoor, University of Newcastle’s Centre of Organic Electronics – Designing medical devices for the world
  • Dr Jessica Allen – What is emerging at the edges of technology?
  • Mariane Power, Leadership consultant and clinical psychologist – Will wrap up the day 

With the program for the day falling into place festival organisers have also set a challenge for exhibitors and participants and that’s to embrace the event’s sustainability pledge by reducing the event footprint as much as possible. 

“Sustainability is at the heart of innovation and it was really important for the festival to not just talk the talk but also walk the walk. 

“Sustainability through innovation is a great tagline but we need to make an impact with our actions. This is why we have set the challenge for everyone involved in the festival to support the pledge and reduce their impact as much as possible.”

“The great news is this is at the core of what many of our exhibitors and speakers are already doing. They are using innovation to solve big problems.”

Here a just a few examples of what is happening in the Hunter

  • MGA Thermal use recycled carbon and aluminium power wires to create their miscibility gap alloys (MGA) to store energy as heat
  • Ampcontrol have formed a partnership with LAVO to create batteries that are fully self sufficient sources of long duration power storage. They deliver energy with a fuel cell and electrolyser combined to create their integrated Hydrogen Energy Storage System (HESS) solution.
  • SwitchDin are helping to accelerate the energy transition by building the tools to ensure that distributed energy resources like rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles are integrated into the way the grid works. 

Read the pledge 


Hunter Innovation Festival presented by Hunter IF
Wednesday 12 October 2022
Newcastle City Hall

Tickets on sale now – go to 

Hunter Innovation Festival is part of Spark Festival – Australia’s Festival of Innovation, Tech and Ideas. 

To organise interviews please email or call Kate on 0408 688 547.