Skip to main content

Sydney Innovation Festival

Australia’s best innovators and startup brands explore innovation
The Sydney Innovation Festival is an annual event that introduces the University community to innovation and discusses the latest insights into the Sydney innovation ecosystem by inviting Australia’s best innovators and thought leaders.

Headline acts include Afterpay, Canva, Genesis, Google’s Wing, HP Inc, INCUBATE, Zip and dozens of other founders!

Sydney Innovation Festival 2021: Olympic Diver Melissa Wu

Melissa Wu talks about innovation and the overlaps between owning her own business and excelling as an Olympic athlete.

Day one: Tuesday 12 October

1 - 2pm: Founder Talks: Fireside Chat with Judd Katz, Co-founder of Refundid

Founder Talks

Curious about how a startup can go from an idea to closing a successful multi-million dollar raise in under a year? Hear the story of Refundid, the latest Australian Fintech startup to do just that.

  • Benjamin Lindsay, Program Manager, INCUBATE
  • Judd Katz, Co-Founder of Refundid

2:15 - 3:15pm: Innovation for students, by students

Innovation for students by students

What is it like to work in a startup? Ask a student. How can I be involved in a startup society? Ask a student. What stories can we learn from Australia’s best innovators? Ask a student! This panel consists of recent graduates, and students involved in innovation across the University.

  • Matilda Langford, University of Sydney Student Ambassador
  • Audrey Thehamilhardja, Canva graduate
  • Muskan Jain, Enactus President
  • Rishabh Jain, SUSMI President
  • Adam Miller, The Sachin and Adam Show

3:30 - 5pm: Your FASS skills are exactly what startups and tech companies are looking for

Matthew Bright

Utilise your FASS skills in the startup world. Find out how unique skills add value from University of Sydney FASS alumni Matthew Bright. All students are welcome, but specifically targeted to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

  • Zara Seidler, Co-Founder of the Daily Aus
  • Matthew Bright, Business Development Lead, Zip Business, at Zip Co.
  • Valeria Peretokina, Learning Designer at Practera

3:30 - 5pm: New Multidisciplinary Major/Minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Bernard Resch, Steven Maguire and Paul Finn

The University of Sydney is launching the brand-new  Multidisciplinary Major/Minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Come along to this session to find out what this new major offers and how it will set you up for your future career.

  • Bernard Resch, Lecturer in Creativity, Innovation and Business, (Moderator) 
  • Steven Maguire, Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the University of Sydney Business School
  • Paul Finn, Lecturer with the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Day two: Wednesday 13 October

1 - 2pm: Innovation for Planet Earth

Innovation for Planet Earth

What role does innovation play in reaching Australia’s sustainability targets, whether it be pollution, recycling, or emissions? And how can we, as budding innovators, assist?

  • Lucy Lin, Founder of Forestlyn; a consultancy for AI, data and blockchain companies
  • Mike Boyle, Australia and New Zealand Managing Director for HP Inc
  • Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation 2020 winner
  • Jesse Suskin, Head of Government Relations at Google’s Wing

2:15 - 3:15pm: Your Wellbeing Innovated

Your Wellbeing Innovated

Lockdown restrictions have plagued individuals with countless issues, including isolation, burnout, and loss of connection. So how can we better manage our wellbeing through innovation?

  • Natasha Munasinghe, Director of 
  • Nicolas Brown, Batyr CEO
  • Danielle Owen Whitford, CEO of Pioneer & Genesis Winner 2021
  • Adam Spencer, MC, mathematician and comedian

3:30 - 4:30pm: It all starts with an idea: learn the art of startup ideation!

Nina Juhl and Alex Carpenter.

How did Afterpay even come up with the idea of Afterpay? Having an idea is the first step of the journey for all startups. In this rapid and interactive workshop learn how you can start generating your own ideas to explore!

  • Nina Juhl, Community Manager, INCUBATE
  • Alex Carpenter, Program Manager, Genesis

3:30 - 5pm: Thinking commercially about your research

Rupal Ismin, Associate Professor Ali Abbas and Dr Mobin Nomvar.

An introduction to the considerations that research entrepreneurs should have during their research and for after they realise they have an invention.

  • Rupal Ismin, Director of Sydney Knowledge Hub
  • Associate Professor Ali Abbas, Director of Waste Transformation Research Hub
  • Dr Mobin Nomvar, Co-founder and CEO Scimita Ventures

Day three: Thursday 14 October

1 - 2pm: Keynote Panel - What is a Startup and why should Australia make more?

What is a startup and why should Australia make more?

This keynote panel explores the Australian startup ecosystem, from its culture to incubators and funding opportunities and discusses what should be done to improve this journey for all.

  • Fenella Kernebone, Head of programming, Sydney Ideas (Moderator)
  • Lachlan Andrews, Global Communications Lead, Canva
  • Livia Wang, Co-Founder and CMO of Access Corporate Group
  • Lee Hatton, Executive Vice President, Afterpay
  • Amy Glancey, Chief of Staff, Atlassian

Interview with Melissa Wu

Melissa Wu tells us about her experience as a business owner and Olympic Athlete.

2020 Innovation Festival highlights

2020 Keynote Panel: Innovation and Social Impact

What exactly is innovation and how is it defined in the Australian context? Is it taboo to be an entrepreneur or has that changed? Finally, how can innovation unlock technologies to solve society’s greatest problems?

  • The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister of Australia,
  • Professor Hala Zreiqat AM, Biomedical Engineering, Director ARC Training Centre for Innovative Bioengineering, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, The University of Sydney and Eureka Prize Winner for Innovative Use of Technology (2019)
  • Adam Spencer (session moderator), Author, Comedian and Maths Geek
  • Elysse Morgan, Host, ABC's The Business

2020: Crisis or Opportunity?

COVID-19 has plagued businesses with countless issues, so how can we use it to our advantage? From finding people meaningful work, the changing city heartbeat, and individual mindsets, this panel with show you how thought-leaders are thriving in 2020.

2020: Working in Innovation Post-COVID

What type of skills, talents and attributes are innovators looking for and what is the workplace like in 2020? This panel will highlight how you can bring an innovative mindset to any workplace.

2020: University Opportunities

So now you like innovation? Well find out how you can get involved! From first years to in-depth research students, there is a place for you in innovation at the University.


Innovation Hub


Facebook: @sydneyinnovationhub

LinkedIn: Universityofsydneyinnovationhub

Join the Innovation community