The grassroots-led and volunteer-organised Hunter Innovation Festival is on again for the 10th year in a row from 6 – 17 May.
Due to funding and backing from the new not-for-profit, Hunter iF, the 2019 festival incorporates bigger, more diverse events than in previous years. Free and ticketed events include an interactive light installation at Civic Park, a problem-solving hackathon, an Internet-Of-Things event, a virtual ceramics night, a women in innovation presentation, live music and dance, and a course on podcasting.
Regional Manager for the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, Tim Cotter is chairing the festival and local innovation expert, Christina Gerakiteys is the festival’s Champion Connector.
Christina said the word innovation has come into its own recently and has many definitions.
“Some people think of it as something that’s never been done before, others a small useful change. I don’t care what term you use, but it can all be stepped back to ‘how do we make this real?’,” Christina said.
Christina said she is over the moon that Hunter iF has employed a full-time coordinator for the festival this year, Kahlea McGeechan.
Hunter iF was first established in October of 2018. It was formed as a support network for innovators in the region, and the Innovation Festival is just one of its several initiatives and projects.
Hunter iF’s Project Coordinator, Richard Christian said the organisation hopes it has stepped it up in the eyes of the innovation ecosystem and also the broader community.
“We want to provide real value to innovators and businesses throughout the Hunter,” Richard said.
The festival this year received $25,000 in funding. Along with coordinating the festival, Hunter iF is also running the Pitch X event, happening Thursday 16 May at Newcastle Exhibition Space at Wests. It will feature pitches from Diffuse Energy, Elite Robotics, Helpful Love, Hone, Nuts n Bolts Design and Uukoo. It’s called Pitch X not just because it’s a pitching event, but also because it’s an exhibition of government funded support services.
Amongst the events during the festival, NewieVentures is showcasing a light demonstration, Luna, in Civic Park.
Head of Communication for NewieVentures, Rayannon Innes said innovative is the word for the installation.
“It’s new and experimental, it was born from a hackathon late last year. We wanted lights to illuminate when people approached them,” Rayannon said.
“Council liked our pitch and they’ve given us a bit of a grant and support to pilot it in Civic Park.”
Rayannon said people can use tokens (origami flowers premade at NewieVentures) to control the lighting in the system and activate different colours.
IMAGE | Hunter Innovation Festival is taking place from 6 – 17 May.
The Hunter Innovation Festival was born from the rib of the Australian Innovation Festival that started in 2002. This festival was built on the foundations of the four Cs – creativity, connections, collaboration, and commercialisation.
For HIF that started in 2007, the same foundations remain fundamental to embracing an innovative culture and it showcases these concepts through the annual event.
It aims is to contribute to fostering even greater connections and opportunities for startups, scaleups, businesses and organisations that realise that innovation is a priority in workplace practices.