Group picture of SIP 2021 students with co-convenors

Sydney Innovation Program

Register for SIP 2023

The Sydney Innovation Program (SIP) brings together students from across the University to identify, understand and explore innovative solutions at the nexus between law, science and technology.

The Sydney Innovation Program (SIP) will give you the opportunity to live, work and learn within a vibrant collegiate environment on campus for five days. Then, over the course of an additional week, you will work in teams and with leading academics and industry professionals, to further hone, develop and design solutions to current global challenges – legal/regulatory/ethical and scientific – and finally ‘pitch’ your ideas to a panel of leading experts in the fields of science, law, engineering and journalism.

This year’s program is the result of dialogue between senior academics from the Law School, the Faculties of Engineering, Science, and Business, and industry professionals. It is focused on how developments to artificial intelligence, and automated decision making systems, will cause, or solve, challenges in the following areas:

  • Sustainability and the resources sector
  • Public health after COVID
  • The future of justice
  • Financial systems.

Students will have two days to connect with each other and hear from academic and industry experts about problems arising in each of these sectors, before entering their preferences to join a particular team. Each of the four teams will be allocated five students from a diverse variety of degrees and backgrounds, and a number of academic or industry mentors with significant expertise in the relevant field.

Throughout the program, teams will have access to:

  • Ongoing mentoring from leading researchers, experts in design thinking, legal practitioners, policy entrepreneurs and industry partners, some of whom will join and participate in the residential experience and will be available to mentor and advise throughout the program.
  • Innovation Hub resources including technical facilities, such as 3D-Printing and coding support, as well as take tours of VR Lab and Nanoscience facilities
  • State-of-the-art recording equipment and technical support to record and present the finished solutions.

These experiences will assist teams to understand the wide range of technologies that may be deployed to translate new ideas to viable prototypes or programs of work.

The program will culminate with teams pitching their individual projects to a panel of leading experts. Students will have to pre-record their pitches and then answer the panel’s questions. All teams will receive feedback and the winning team will be awarded a monetary prize along with a package of resources and ongoing support to develop further its ‘winning pitch’ into a viable future work program. While industry partners and academics may contribute to the creative process, each team will own the intellectual property it generates.

The Sydney Innovation Program combines the joys of creativity, the rigours of coursework, and the community and the collegiality of romanticised academia. Partaking in the program was the highlight of my academic journey so far, and I have no doubts that I’ll continue to look back upon it as fondly as I do now, forever.
SIP 2020 participant, Riley Vaughan

The Sydney Innovation Program’s residential component will be held from 6-10 February 2023. Teams will then have until the presentation night on 17 February 2023 to finalise their solutions.

Applications are open until 11:59pm on 28 October 2022. 

Current University of Sydney students from all disciplines and years with an interest in law and/or technology are encouraged to apply.

The Sydney Innovation Program values diversity and encourages creative and original thinking. We are looking for bright, independently-minded students who are keen to learn and have the ability to get on with people. SIP will prioritise equity and diversity as well as degree progression in applications.

The application process will require your CV, academic transcript, a brief statement of motivation (in either written or video form), and an optional diversity and equity survey. The Program is a competitive one, but all students will be advised of the outcome of their application by mid November.

Successful applicants will be expected to read supplied background materials on their topic that will help orient them for the Program.

Apply here.

  • A maximum of 20 students will be admitted into the program to form 4 teams.
  • Team members must be current students of the University of Sydney (or graduates who finished their studies at the end of 2022). Participants must be available in person for the residential stay, and for the presentation night. Participants must also be available to communicate and work with their team over the intervening week.
  • Applicants will indicate preferences about the four challenges during the program, after they learn about each topic and connect with each other. While the organisers will try to accommodate these preferences, they cannot be assured.

SIP aims to ensure that participants will experience the best of student life, through opportunities to live and learn on campus within a residential college, to experience ‘hands on’ interdisciplinary learning outside the formal constraints of grade coursework, and to establish new and ongoing professional networks. This process is supported by a team of leading academics, practitioners and industry mentors who will work with and support the students.

SIP addresses the University of Sydney Graduate Qualities through a program that provides opportunities for developing the following:

  • Depth of disciplinary expertise – SIP students will have the opportunity to apply and develop a prototype or solution responding to a challenge facing their discipline. 
  • Broader skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication (oral and written), information and digital literacy as well as inventiveness SIP students will participate in seminars and round-tables with invited innovators and industry professionals, gain access to advanced technical facilities, and be faced with novel questions, will learn how to increase the impact of their expertise, and their ability to effectively and creatively respond to new challenges.
  • Cultural competence –SIP students will learn how to form effective teams, and to work productively, collaboratively and openly in diverse groups and across cultural boundaries.
  • Interdisciplinary effectiveness – SIP students will be drawn from across the University, requiring participants to consider broader perspectives, cultivate innovation mindsets, and gain more contextualised and systemic forms of understanding.
  • An integrated, professional, ethical and personal identity – SIP students, through structured collaboration, have the freedom to experiment and invent, alive to the ethical, political and moral questions of these challenges.
  • Influence – SIP students will gain in confidence personal resilience, and enhance their capacities to understand complex challenges and cope with uncertainty, and to tackle these challenges with a holistic, interdisciplinary approach, considering the wider impact of their proposal, their professional and social responsibility, and their proposal’s ability to make a positive contribution to society.

For further information on our Graduate Qualities, visit the Educational Innovation’s Sydney Graduate Page.

Professor Simon Bronitt is the Dean of the Sydney Law School. Simon has three ARC Laureate decades of working across disciplinary boundaries and working with and nurturing inspiring legal minds. His commitment to interdisciplinarity culminated in his leadership of an interdisciplinary ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (2009-2014). He has devoted much of his academic life to seeking knowledge to hold the powerful to account, and improving the quality of justice for powerless members of society.

Dr David Martinez-Martin is a physicist and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney. Trained in Spain and Switzerland, David describes himself, first and foremost, as an innovator. With many significant patents and inventions under development, he understands the challenges of scientific translation, and how new biomedical inventions designed in partnership with global industry partners must work for the betterment of society. He provides a unique perspective on commercialisation and how intellectual property plays a role in advancing (and sometimes frustrating) scientific advances.

Rebecca Lim is a Strategic Consultant at Gilbert + Tobin, an Executive Advisor at the Westpac Group (having previously spent 10 years as Westpac’s Group General Counsel), and recently, a Practitioner-in-Resident at the University of Sydney Law School. She was an advisory board member for the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation from 2018 to 2021, Deputy Chair of the General Counsel of the ASX100 (part of the Association of Corporate Counsel) from 2017 to 2020, and is now a member of the Bretton Woods Committee, a preeminent non-profit organisation dedicated to effective global financial co-operation.

Professor Allan McCay is Deputy Director of The Sydney Institute of Criminology and an Academic Fellow at the University of Sydney's Law School. He coordinates the Legal Research units at the Sydney Law School, and lectures in Criminal Law. Much of his work as focused on neuroscience, neurotechnology, and the criminal law. He is also interested in free will and punishment, ethical issues related to emerging neurotechnologies, and the future of legal work.

Dr José-Miguel Bello y Villarino is a Research Fellow at the Law School and the Institutions programme of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S). He is a member of the Diplomatic Corps of Spain (on leave) and previously worked in different capacities for the European Union. In 2021 he was a Fulbright-Schuman scholar at the Harvard Law School. His current research focuses on regulatory approaches to ADM and Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially on how to deal with risks derived from the operation of AI systems from a comparative approach.

Dr Massimo Garbuio is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney. His approach to research and training involves helping others–whether they’re students or seasoned strategists–imagine, ideate and design new sources of value. Massimo is passionate about the human impact that good ideas can make given the right approaches and skill-sets, whether within start-ups seeking a firm footing or organisations envisioning a new future.

Successful applicants and teams will receive the following support:

  • Five days of residential living on campus at a university college
  • One week to organise and work with a team to develop, design and hone a solution to a specific challenge
  • Financial support in the form of a small bursary to compensate you for the time you will dedicate to the program
  • Access to a diverse range of mentors from law, science, industry and academia
  • Access to advanced technical facilities
  • Dedicated team mentor to help your ideas develop
  • Support and expertise from ‘SIP Ambassadors’ – former students who participated in SIP 2020 and 2021
  • Exposure to industry partners and networking opportunities
  • Access to all SIP alumni events
  • Ongoing internal media exposure and support.

(Please note that the above listed awards and support related to SIP 2021, and are subject to change for SIP 2023.)

Do I have to pay?

No, the SIP is free for all participants. There is no enrolment cost. The program covers accommodation (single room) and catering for the residential stay. 

Can I get course credit?

SIP is designed as a dedicated extra-curricular, so course credit is not available.

Do I have to study law?

No, only an interest in law and science is needed!

Do I have to study science or engineering?

No, all disciplines are welcome to apply.

Do I have to study at the University of Sydney?


Do I have to be an undergraduate?

No. Students at all levels are welcome to apply.

Can I apply if I need to miss a few days?

No, you must be in attendance, in-person, for the entire residential stay. You must also be available for the presentation night the following week, and preferably available for the gap in-between, to work on your solution.

How do I apply?

See the instructions above.

What is the application process like?

See instructions above. We want you to use your statement of motivation and video or audio file to give us a sample of your talents, ambitions and ability to contribute. Use the application to show off your best ideas!

How are teams allocated?

Organisers will allocate teams on a number of different factors including demonstrated interests, topic preferences, and disciplinary background.

Can I choose who I work with?

Not exactly. While team composition is at the discretion of the convenors, this year groups will not be formed for the first two days of the Program. Students will have the chance to mingle, build relationships, and then enter their preferences: this is similar to accelerators in the real world. The convenors will attempt to accommodate all preferences, but that may not be possible. 

Once accepted, what do I need to bring?

More information will be provided to successful applicants.

How should I behave?

Students are expected to uphold the university code of conduct.

I have a different question.


Thank you to our sponsors and supporters, who helped ensure that the last Program was such a success.

2021 sponsors:

  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth was the SIP 2021 principal corporate sponsor
  • The Tom Yim Family Foundation donated the Tom Yim Innovation Team Prize which was awarded to the winning team to support them to further develop their project
  • Kevin McCann AM FAICD.

2021 supporters:

  • Sydney Knowledge Hub
  • ThinkSpace

To get involved as a corporate sponsor, industry partner or mentor, please contact us at

The judges for the last Program included:

  • Rebecca Lim – Group General Counsel and Enterprise Executive, Westpac
  • Kevin McCann AM FAICD – Chairman, Telix Pharmeceuticals Limited; Chairman, China Matters
  • Natasha Rawlings – Investment Manager, Uniseed
  • Mark Rigotti – Partner and Senior Advisor, Herbert Smith Freehills, Sydney
  • Professor Tania Sorrell, AM – Co-Director, Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity.

Please note that the information below refers to the previous SIP. More information concerning SIP2023 will be released soon.

Automated decision-making challenge

The rapid expansion of large scale data collection, coupled with advances in data analytics and machine learning, are changing the ways that we engage with government (and how it engages with us), and the ways that we interact in the market. It is increasingly possible to link and analyse huge datasets about people and their behaviour, to make predictions about what will happen in the future, respond to those predictions by making automated decisions about people, monitor the outcomes and respond dynamically over time. Automated systems can be, and are being used to analyse CVs and video interviews to decide who gets shortlisted for a job; to tailor and personalise advertisements and news content on social media platforms, to rout traffic and transport, and to decide where to focus social welfare and law enforcement; or what medical and health services to offer people. The use of automated systems in these high stakes decision-making environments raises huge questions for society: questions about the ubiquitous collection of data and what data collection misses; questions about the fairness of these automated systems and the potential biases built into them; and questions about how we can best exercise democratic oversight and governance of these systems so that they operate for the benefit of people and society. What limits are there on the use of automated decision-making? When do we need a ‘human in the loop’? What tools (technical, conceptual) do people who are developing, procuring, or using automated systems need to make sure they are doing it well and not causing harm? How can people and society get involved in how data is gathered or tools used?

~ Professor Kimberlee Weatherall

Sustainability challenge

Achieving sustainability is a multifaceted challenge as is evidenced by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals including climate change (Goal 13) and access to affordable and clean energy (Goal 7). While the Australian government has signed up to the SDG, according to the latest Climate Transparency report, Australia’s per capita emissions are three times the G20 average. One of the crucial issues leading to this result is Australia’s lack of legal and policy frameworks for achieving a 100% clean energy powered grid and reaching net-zero emissions. Innovative legal solutions are needed to address the core trilemma of ensuring: (1) economic development, (2) environmental protection (including human health), and (3) social development (including human rights).

The Federal government’s recently released Technology Investment Roadmap proposes using hydrogen - ‘H2 under 2°’– as part of its energy innovation transition. Hydrogen will be produced at around $2 per kilogram which is the price at which hydrogen competes with fossil fuels. Integral to this is the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (‘the Hub’) in the Pilbara planned for completion in 2027. It will be the world’s largest power station providing 40% of Australia’s generation. The Hub will establish 14 gigawatts of electrolysers to convert desalinated seawater into ‘green hydrogen’ as well as 1,600 giant wind turbines, and 78 square metres of solar panels. What legal framework is needed to support the ‘H2 under 2°’ technological innovation?

~ Dr Madeline Taylor and Professor Rosemary Lyster

Institutional integrity challenge

Each day, we are confronted with integrity challenges and our newsfeeds are full of unfolding scandals. No sector has been immune – and these challenges have impacted negatively on the levels of trust in our public, private and corporate sectors, as well as the regulatory agencies and laws which are ostensibly that should be working to prevent such abuses.

Even our own sector - higher education and research – has not been immune from such challenges. For example, the replication crisis in science has uncovered the prevalence of scholarly malpractice, dishonesty and misconduct. Turnitin reveals a three-fold increase in integrity matters in assessment in Sydney Law School! Whether such behaviour is framed as systemic, structural, cultural or simply individual ‘rotten apples’ working in an otherwise pristine barrel, we are now ‘counting the costs’ in both economic, political and social terms.

This challenge requires the team to identify and gauge the seriousness of a current, new or emerging integrity challenge. Team members will be challenged to think critically about how integrity problems are understood, and how institutions, individuals, systems and rules can be more effectively harnessed to prevent, deter and remedy associated harms.

~ Professor Simon Bronitt

Public health challenge

The world is facing an urgent need to improve preparedness and control of existing and future global health threats. For instance high blood pressure is a major leading risk factor for disability, cardiovascular disease and kidney chronic disease, which is linked to 1 in 5 of all deaths. However, the lack of suitable technologies to reliably track and communicate blood pressure to patients, as well as difficulties to make health care more equitable contributes to have a large number of cases undiagnosed. As a result, such patients are prevented from existing effective treatments and better lifestyle recommendations.

Importantly, the climate crisis is also a threat for public health since it can increase natural disasters, malnutrition rates, water scarcity and the proliferation and transmission of infectious diseases. Moreover, according to WHO air pollution kills approximately 7 million people per year.

In addition to the previous threads, the current COVID-19 pandemic accounts for more than 54 million people infected and more than 1.3 million deaths as of November of 2020. Almost a year after the initial outbreak the rate of infection keeps increasing making it very clear that more effective actions plans in the societal, economic and public health dimensions are required. New optics and innovative ideas are required for the successful development of such plans, which will be essential as well for preparedness to future global epidemics.

~ Dr David Martinez Martin

I am extremely grateful for participating in the Sydney Innovation Program in 2020. Through engaging with other students, teachers and mentors you will be supported with the resources and expert-knowledge that you need to solve complex world problems in a social, interactive and creative environment. As a result of SIP, I have been able to become a confident Project Director of a non-profit Refugees Are Never Alone, RANA at Enactus USYD, as well as in my university subjects and other professional pursuits.
SIP 2020 participant, Dyana Satya Moitinho Freitas

Further questions