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Innovation Week

Showcasing our world-changing ideas
Innovation Week celebrates the ground breaking discoveries and transformative inventions from our academics and students.

2018 marked the third year of Innovation Week, running from 30 July until 6 August. The Week featured 18 events, including the below marquee events.

In two carefully curated events that brought together academics from around the University in a panel discussion with industry experts, Sydney Ideas provided an opportunity for the public to engage in Innovation Week.

The first event, held on Tuesday 31 July in the Charles Perkins Centre auditorium, brought together linguist Professor Nick Enfield, molecular oncologist Professor Jennifer Byrne and astrophysicist Professor Geraint Lewis in a panel discussion with screenwriter John Collee and dramatist Alana Valentine on the topic ‘Is storytelling bad for science?’ The event sold out weeks in advance, with more than 750 people registered to attend and media coverage from ABC Sydney and The Guardian.

The second event, ‘Art and neuroplasticity: are they linked?’, attracted more than 1600 registrations (another sell out) to the Seymour Centre event held on Wednesday 1 August. Youth mental health expert Associate Professor Elizabeth Scott, neuropsychologist and dementia researcher Professor Sharon Naismith,  MCA director, businesswoman and philanthropist Samantha Meers and acclaimed chamber musician Bernadette Harvey came together to discuss how art can influence our brains and mental wellbeing. The event was recorded by ABC’s Big Ideas program.

More than 300 staff and their families came together to celebrate outstanding achievements across the University for third annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

Held on Monday 30 July in MacLaurin Hall, the event paid tribute to 89 academic and professional staff members, from grounds keepers, who maintain and improve our beautiful campus, to nanoscientists and public policy experts who are at the top of their game.

A key element of our culture strategy, these flagship whole-of-university, peer-nominated awards recognise exceptional performance not only in the areas of research and education, but also in mentoring and leadership. This year, there were also two new categories in the areas of disability inclusion and Indigenous education strategies.

Almost 250 researchers, students, entrepreneurs, investors and alumni came together for an evening that showcased our ground-breaking startups and demonstrated the University’s vision for industry engagement and impact.

NSW Woman of the Year Professor Hala Zreiqat presented on her team’s development of the world’s first synthetic-bone biomaterials that possess both the strength and regenerative capabilities of natural, healthy bone.

Professor Tony Weiss spoke of his biotechnology company Elastagen, which was recently sold to biopharma company Allergan, and PhD student Anastasia Volkova inspired with her agtech start-up FluroSat, which combines drone and satellite imagery with algorithms to allow farmers to remotely assess plant health, diagnose problems and direct fertiliser application.

The event, held at the historic Maclaurin Hall on Wednesday 1 August, received much positive feedback from attendees, with one journalist commenting “The whole event was impressive. It showed an institution a long way from the 'ivory towers' reputation of the higher ed sector. I have gathered some good leads” and a government representative commenting “I met fascinating people that will hopefully spark meaningful partnerships.” Others attendees have requested to put be put in touch with academics in their area: “We are interested in collaborating on any projects around workforce, skills, skill gaps, future of work.”

The world’s first anti-pollution mask, a robotic translator for people with deafblindness, a biodegradable solution alternative to plastic mulch and vehicles that can investigate underwater structures were the winners of this year’s Student Innovation Challenge.

Run annually as part of Innovation Week, the event on Tuesday 31 July gave student-led teams the opportunity to pitch their best ideas to a panel made up of entrepreneurs, industry, alumni and venture capitalists.

With close to 200 applications and more than 170 event registrations, the event was a resounding success, with the winners sharing in $30,000 in grant funding to bring their ideas to life.

The University hosted a workshop on Monday 6 August at the Sydney Business School CBD Campus to tackle big problems in drug and diagnostics development, from drug production, clinical trials, policy, and data.

The aim was to bring together a unique combination of industry and community partners with our research experts from fields as diverse as addiction, animal health, agriculture, cannabis and microbiome research, to generate new collaborative projects to transform diagnostics and treatment.

Up to $10,000 seed funding was on offer to support the most promising partnerships coming out of the workshop.

2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence honoured 89 award winners across 14 categories at a special ceremony on Monday 30 July.

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