Hunter Innovation Festival back to regenerate local community

Hunter Innovation Festival back to regenerate local community

The Hunter Innovation Festival is back for 2021, kicking off on Monday 3 May – Sunday 16 May, with this year’s festival theme being Innovate to Regenerate.

The City of Newcastle will be partnering with Hunter iF to make the Innovation Festival possible.

Made up of more than 40 events, this year’s Festival aims to connect, inspire, educate and promote a culture of innovation throughout the Hunter.

The events will range from interactive workshops, to information sessions on how to secure funding for new ventures, tech play for all ages, tours of local businesses achieving great things, business lunches, inspirational talks and more.

Newcastle has a proud history when it comes to innovation, manufacturing and engineering, hosting over 180 innovation ecosystem assets including 25 innovation spaces, 24 programs and 15 innovation support organisations

Claire Quigley, Festival Coordinator and Innovation Consultant, is excited to be working to deliver a festival focused on making innovation accessible through hybrid and virtual events, as well as relevant and connective live events across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, all the way up to Scone.

One of her goals for the 2021 Festival is to create connectivity across community, business and industry, government and education. This is thoroughly reflected in the diverse range of events in the festival line-up.

“The Hunter is the leading regional economy in Australia, and in order to maintain that position, we need opportunities to connect people, ideas and capabilities to continue fostering innovation,” Claire said.

Lake Macquarie will be home to several interactive events during the festival. Smart Cities Lead for Lake Macquarie City Council, Claire Chaikin-Bryan is excited that this year’s events will see people gain a new-found understanding and appreciation for the dynamic nature of innovation and how ideas can be supported and brought to life.

“I’m excited to see the festival focus on bringing people and ideas together in a free, dynamic, hands-on environment,” she said.

“We want to hear your ideas and gain an understanding of how you use innovation in your life. We’re open to different ideas and we want to connect you with available supports to make them a reality.”

Some highlights for the Lake Macquarie events will be the High School Protothon, giving some aspiring young innovators the opportunity to design a prototype, pitch it, and gain valuable resources to help them with future endeavours.

They’re also proud to be launching their expanded Community Internet of Things Network and will be running workshops throughout the festival to inspire people to get hands on and create their own uses for the network.

According to Lake Macquarie City Council, growth in the innovation eco-system provides the greatest economic opportunities for the region’s future, holding the key to solving social and environmental challenges.

“Innovation is vital to the creation of a circular economy, and a vibrant future for Lake Macquarie,” a Lake Mac Council representative said.

The Innovation Festival is actively supported by AusIndustry, who instigated the first Innovation Festival back in 2002.

AusIndustry Hunter Regional Manager, Natalie Gillam, sees the Festival as a valuable way to bring innovation awareness to the entire Hunter, commenting that innovation is not just for larger cities.

“Innovation is not just a city thing. Innovation is changing the way things get done – be it a totally new device or a new way of making the device, a new piece of software, new materials, new business models,” Natalie said.

Another long-time champion of the Hunter Innovation Festival, The University of Newcastle says the Festival plays a big part in connecting emerging and experienced innovators and entrepreneurs through a number of events including Startup Stories.

Senior Manager for I2N, Siobhan Curran says the best ideas are often made when people collaborate and move through challenges together.

“The best kind of innovation brings people together for a common good – which is exactly what we’ll need to overcome some of the most pressing challenges of our time,” she said.

This festival is proudly supported by the Port of Newcastle and The Garis Group.

A full event calendar and more details are available on the Hunter Innovation Festival website.

IMAGE | Hunter Innovation Festival attendees from previous years.

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