Raising the Bar: innovation returns to Sydney's bars, pubs and live music venues

7 March 2023

Lively expert talks hosted by your favourite watering holes

A blockbuster one-night event featuring 30 free talks at 15 venues tackling the theme 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation,' Raising the Bar will flex your brain on topics including medical technology, sustainability, circular economy, AI, robotics and more.

Raising the Bar Sydney makes its comeback on Tuesday 4 April, with 15 researchers from the University of Sydney and 15 local entrepreneurs invited by the City of Sydney sharing their innovative ideas in local venues across Tech Central, Sydney’s beating heart of innovation.

These future-thinking talks will soak the city with knowledge, support local businesses and reinvigorate a sense of community after three years’ delay due to the pandemic.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott AO, expressed the significance of these events returning to the Sydney community. 

“Raising the Bar is a wonderful way for the community to personally engage with academics in amazing Sydney venues and hear about their work and research, including how they are addressing the many complex issues of our times. I hope audiences will leave these events enriched, impassioned and hopeful,” said Professor Scott.  

Raising the bar speakers 2023

Richard Savoie, Preethi Mohan, Dr Clément Canonne, Professor Steven Wise, Martin Boyd (left to right). Image credit: The University of Sydney. 

The City of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore also welcomed the talks.

“Raising the Bar is a wonderful initiative that will inspire and educate through a range of free talks in an unconventional setting,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“Academics, industry experts and thought leaders will discuss diverse topics from vertical farming to the future of urban mobility.

“I’d encourage you to meet up with your friends at your favourite bar and learn something new in a relaxed environment.”

A partnership between the University and the City of Sydney, there are two rounds of talks at each venue, with round one from 6–7 pm and round two from 8–9 pm. For a learning experience like none other, secure a ticket for yourself and your friends here.

“Raising the Bar is a wonderful way for the community to personally engage with academics in amazing Sydney venues and hear about their work and research."
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott AO.

A taster of the innovative talks

Porn: What counts as healthy?

Professor Alan McKee, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Professor McKee will address the topic of pornography and healthy sexual development – and why considering a variety of sexual practices could change how we approach ubiquitous online porn responsibly.

“I hope this talk will help people find their way through the sexual maze,” said Professor McKee.

“As a queer man, I’ve spent my life being told that my sexuality is perverse, wrong and evil. I’m excited to help make people more comfortable with sex, including masturbation.”

Find tickets for Professor McKee's talk here

8:00 PM, Manning Bar, University of Sydney Camperdown campus

Carbon Dioxide removal – the path to net zero?

Professor Deanna D’Alessandro, Faculty of Science

Climate leaders agree that we must actively remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere to keep the global temperature rise under two degrees Celsius. But Professor D’Alessandro shares that while nature reduces CO2, we must also utilise scaling technologies like direct air capture to stabilise our climate.

“I will talk about a technology called Direct Air Capture that directly removes one of the most potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere.

“There are many technological solutions that will help us reduce and eliminate emissions, many of which present positive opportunities for our communities around Australia,” said Professor D’Alessandro.

Find tickets for Professor D'Alessandro here.

6 PM, The Barrie, Chippendale

Raising the bar speakers 2023

Dr Levi Tegg, Associate Professor Arianna Brambilla, Tom Loefler, Janet Salem, and Steve Grace (left to right). Image credit: the University of Sydney. 

Vertical farming to feed the world smarter

Paul Millett, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, InvertiGro

Our global population is growing and we are increasingly living in cities. Food supply chains are getting longer and more complicated. Most farmable lands are being depleted. We need to find smarter ways to farm – essentially, grow more produce with less resources.

“InvertiGro is an Aussie start-up on a mission to help address some of these pressing food security and availability issues by helping farmers and food businesses – and ultimately consumers everywhere – to improve their access to reliable supplies of fresh and healthy produce, grown sustainably and hyper-locally using our unique modular and scalable indoor farming technology,” said Mr Millett.

“These new models are able to grow what is needed, when and where it is needed, with a small fraction of the land and water, free from chemical pesticides and herbicides, while reducing food miles and the ever-increasing food waste that results from our lengthening supply chains.”

Find tickets for Mr Millett's talk here

6 PM, Re cocktail bar

Ethical hacker reveals cybercrime secrets

Martin Boyd, Founder, Vertex Cyber Security

Recent high-profile cyber attacks have brought new attention to the importance of online security. We have locks on our front doors, but some of our most valuable assets – from personal data to our savings – are stored on our computers and cloud systems.

Why don’t we have the same protections in place for things we can’t see? Learn how cyber attacks happen and the various big ways they can impact our lives.

"I've managed cyber security for the largest bank in Australia, hacked (ethically) businesses containing your data and defended against the world's best cyber attackers. I'm going to share my secrets, knowledge and experience so you can learn and be prepared for the latest wave of cyber attacks coming,” said Martin.

Find tickets for Mr Boyd's talk here.

8 PM, Wayward Brewing

Other University of Sydney talks at Raising The Bar 2023

Making buildings that are good for the earth – Associate Professor Arianna Brambilla at Clare Bar

Designed for me: Assistive technologies to fit everybody – Dr Anusha Withana at Brix Distillers

Our data privacy vs the algorithm – Dr Clément Canonne at The Abercrombie Club

Using microscopes to make better beer and better alloys – Dr Levi Tegg at Atomic Brewery

Get to know AI, your new digital colleague – Dr Michael Seymour at Hermann’s Bar

Collagen: Shelf supplement or life-saving medicine? - Professor Jingjing You at The Abercrombie - Casa Rosa

Building Blood Vessels from Silk - Professor Steven Wise at Harry's

Managing our coasts with Indigenous knowledges – Dr Mitchell Gibbs at Brancho

What can electronics do for my brain? – Dr Omid Kavehei at SHADES

Can playable public art force a more inclusive city? – Dr Sanné Mestron at Ace Hotel

Feel, hear and smell architecture before it’s built – Dr Anastasia Globa at Wayward Brewing

Hydrogen: a brighter future for energy – Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou at Re

Mysteries of underwater exploration: Imaging the sea floor – Professor Stefan Williams at Soultrap

Other City of Sydney talks at Raising The Bar 2023

How digital tech will make you an eco-consumer – Janet Salem at The Abercrombie

From corporate worker to social warrior – Jasper Vallance at Atomic Brewery

People and tech build the future, hand in hand – Mina Radhakrishnan at Harry’s

The future of meat is cell-based, not animal – George Peppou at The Barrie

Robots for healthy oceans – Tom Loefler at Clare Bar

The next wave of innovation in urban mobility – Richard Savoie at Soultrap

The power of what’s on your plate – Lauren Branson at Brix Distillery

Break into tech without coding – Steve Grace at Hermann’s Bar

Finding your climate superpower – Arielle Gamble at SHADES

Belonging is the key to equitable innovation – Preethi Mohan at Casa Rosa, The Abercrombie Hotel

Magic mushrooms: The therapeutics of the future? – Josh Ismin at Manning Bar

AI gets sustainability on corporate agenda – Jeremy Biggs at Bancho

Is Sydney the next Hollywood? – Barbara Stephen at Ace Hotel

Raising the Bar is a popular worldwide initiative that started in New York and has since spread to over 10 cities, including Hong Kong, London, and other Australian cities, with a unifying goal to make research more accessible and bring academia to popular culture.

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