“Invention is a solo event. Innovation is almost always a team sport.” – Larry Marshall, CEO CSIRO
This is just one of the stellar quotes that came out of the seventh annual Tech23 event on 17 November in Sydney. The event celebrates Australian innovation by connecting investors, and entrepreneurs from across enterprise, government, university and industry sectors.
23 young companies with high growth potential and technical expertise pitched their stories and problems they’re tackling, with industry experts responding with both insights and advice. But outside of the presentations themselves, one of the most important parts of the event constantly reinforced throughout the day is the connections and collaboration between brilliant people from all walks of the innovation ecosystem.
As in previous years, we were invited to judge the pitches and award a winner. Previous winners include FoodOrbit, BlueDot Innovation and Sound Scouts. We love getting involved with startups as it reminds us of our roots disrupting an industry from a humble Doncaster garage in the 90’s. A thousand people and billions of dollars in revenue later we’re still a start up at heart!
The company Me3D won our REA ‘Digital Disruptor’ prize. Me3D design and manufacture affordable 3D Printing equipment to meet the needs of Australian education. They sell their printers into schools and provide local support for teachers so that the technology can be adopted into the curriculum. With a strong connection to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and getting kids excited about technology – particularly girls – there were nice linkages with many of our own goals.
Me3D were founded as a company in late 2013 in the engineering hub of Wollongong, New South Wales. Founder, and presenter on the day, Leanne Connelly (pictured), collected the prize which includes $5000 and a visit to the Melbourne office during a future hack day. During the awards ceremony the ‘REA Visit’ was specifically called out as a great prize given the great feedback we’ve had from previous winners. I got a chance to catch up with Carolyn from Sound Scouts and she was still in awe of the great team she’d met at REA.
The oohs and ahhhs
Among the many crowd-pleasing pitches was a company called Aipoly, who develop artificial intelligence for the blind. Using an image recognition app that describes what is in front of you in sentences. Incredible technology having such an impact on people’s lives definitely made an impression on the audience.
Other personal favourites for me included Locomote, a Melbourne based company trying to streamline corporate travel and Pooled Energy, who bundle electricity with swimming pool maintenance services and optimise utilisation of the grid by coordinating pump schedules.
Find out more about who pitched, the winners and the panel members on the Tech23 website.
What a great opportunity to celebrate the home-grown talent that is transforming our world and get some inspiration for the next iteration of our internal pitch event (we call it ‘The Big Idea’).