Innovation Box: Take it to the World! 

Innovation Box: Take it to the World, held as part of South Ausralia’s October Open State festival, delivered a day of technology innovation and impact aimed at not-for-profit organisations, startups, entrepreneurs, businesses, students and those seeking new, innovate solutions to address the complex challenges of the future.

Taking place on the lawns of the South Australian Museum, and supported by the Office for Digital Government, Connecting Up, Microsoft Innovation Centers, and the UniSA Innovation and Collaboration Centre, Innovation Box provided knowledge seekers with the chance to learn new techniques to develop great ideas, discover opportunity, engage and connect with thought leaders in the sector and learn how to create lasting social impact. 

Keynote speaker, Marita Cheng, founder and CEO of 2Mar Robotics and former Young Australian of the Year, shared her story of success and discussed how robotics and artificial intelligence is changing the lives of people all over the world. 2Mar continues to help people live their day-to-day lives through technology, particularly those living with a disability or those facing challenging circumstances in life. This includes robotic arms for people with limited upper limb mobility that can be controlled by iPhone and Android devices, and head-gyroscopic interfaces. Marita also campaigned for greater technology entrepreneurialism and encouraged more young girls to enter the technology and engineering fields. 

Following Marita’s presentation, representatives from the not-for-profit sector, including Carers SA, Community Living Australia, and Volunteering SA/NT, presented some of their most pressing sector challenges. These included how to better protect and maintain the safety of volunteers; what innovative approaches can be developed to help family carers participate in the workforce while balancing their caring roles and their own wellbeing; and how to reduce social isolation for people with disability. 

In response to these challenges, Dr Jane Andrew, lecturer and founding Studio Director of matchstudio, and Aaron Davis, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant at The University of South Australia, provided participants with a framework for rapid idea generation using the principles of user-centered design. During the interactive session, participants were split into groups of 10, and asked to generate creative solutions to the unique challenges faced by the not-for-profit organisations. 

Attendees were then treated to live pitching during ‘SA Startups Pitch for Cash’, where South Australia’s most exciting startups and entrepreneurs pitched their own ideas for a chance to win $5,000 cash prize and incubation support from University of South Australia’s Innovation and Collaboration Centre.

A select panel of judges including Dr Eva Balan-Vnuk, State Director for Microsoft in South Australia, selected LifeBACK Mens Mental Health and MK2Play – a tool to supports men’s health and an engagement tool for teachers to help deliver STEM in the classroom, were announced the winners on the day.

 

“The companies supported are both focusing on areas of critical importance in our society today; increasing the uptake of STEM by our school students and reducing the alarming rates of suicide,” says Jasmine Vreugdenburg, Manager of the Innovation and Collaboration Centre. 

The final session of the day, ‘Local Thinking Global’, facilitated by Kirk Drage of Leap Sheep, explored what it means to be a digital entrepreneur in South Australia, including the opportunities, challenges, various pathways and the startup ecosystem. Local startups, including Jemsoft, Teamgage and Yup Yup Labs, now experiencing great success and international recognition, discussed their individual journeys and addressed the challenges of the budding entrepreneurs in the room. 

Attendees then spilled out onto the lawns of the SA Museum for the official announcement of the SA Startups Pitch for Cash winners, and to connect with like-minded peers seeking different solutions to tackle the new challenges of the future.