OPINION: The collaborative approach

A smart idea is the first step to finding a solution to a problem.
A smart idea is the first step to finding a solution to a problem.

EVER felt the electricity of the group in an idea building session? That’s what true collaboration feels like. At the end of the session, no one individual feels like they own the idea, solution or concept. It has resulted from the contributions and building-block approach of the whole. 

It is also a process that has no place for ego. There is no room for “that’s my idea”. It’s all in. It’s a truly creative process. And it feels sensational.

It’s even more exciting when the teams are multidisciplinary. We are all the sum of our individual experiences and form our own associations and connections. In short, no two of us bring the same experiences to the table. So that means double the fun.

Smart ideas are usually the result of well-defined problems. Throughout history, our greatest progress has been made when we strive to create an easier pathway to achieve what has traditionally been presented as problematic, or when we have imagined something that in our present experience seems beyond our reach. Like travelling to the moon. Like transportation. Like healing a particular disease. A smart idea is the first step to finding a solution. 

The Innovation Festival started as an idea. It was to be a way of bringing innovation to the forefront of people’s awareness and to stimulate change and economic growth. There are many quotes about change. George Bernard Shaw covers it nicely with “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.  Innovation, by its simplest definition, is about useful change. 

For some time governments, organisations, businesses and individuals have thrown the word ‘‘innovation’’ into marketing material, grant proposals, investment opportunities and television programs. Unfortunately it’s not often that we put our money where our mouth is. I recently read we are sending representatives to Israel to find out why they are innovation champions. But the research is already in. Investment in innovation is $120 per capita in Israel. In Australia it is $4.50.  

This year’s Innovation Festival highlights two components that are considered essentials to innovative practices: smart ideas and collaboration. 

The launch of the festival on July 14 includes a light breakfast followed by smart ideas in progress and smart ideas in first iteration. 

Jennifer Holland is co-founder of Throatscope, a Novocastrian innovator and entrepreneur, and local Shark Tank star. She will share her story, from problem identification to ideation, to lessons learnt from the ‘sharks’ and what exciting opportunities are now being presented to the company. The finalists from The Smart Ideas competition, supported by the Newcastle Herald, will also make their final pitches.  

The launch is a collaborative effort between the University of Newcastle, Hunter TAFE, Hunter Research Foundation and the Hunter Innovation Festival organisers, along with Watt Street Arc, Black Sheep Digital Media and the Newcastle Herald. 

The collaborative efforts and smart ideas continue  until Friday.

Tuesday evening is a collaborative venture between Newcastle Now and New Institute. Panelists and the audience will be asked to debate the question “Can Newcastle and the Hunter become Australia’s first truly smart/creative region? If so, how?” The Smart City concept has been successful globally. It harnesses the potential of the technological revolution and the ideas and energy of the creative industries, to transform cities.

Celebrate 50 Years of Innovation with the University of Newcastle on Wednesday evening. Be inspired by the innovative products and services that have emerged from the incredible graduates and staff.

And if you have a smart idea for a product or you are ready to prototype or take your product to market, Joss Jeffress from Design Anthology, Will Hird from Davies Collison Cave and Martin McKenzie from The Business Centre have collaborated to take you on a product to patent odyssey. 

On Thursday evening we feature Women in Innovation at Watt Street Arc, with  our panelists discussing the triumphs and battles experienced on their innovation journeys. The Hunter Research Foundation’s Economic Breakfast, with keynote speaker Nick Bowditch, closes the event calendar on Friday morning.  

If you’re looking for stimulating discussion, a little heated debate or you are an innovation tragic, we invite you to be a part of the Hunter Innovation Festival. For full program details, ticket purchases and registrations to free events, visit hunterinnovation.biz.

Christina Gerakiteys is  chief executive and creative director of Ideation At Work and is on the organising committee for the Hunter Innovation Festival. As part of the festival, the Newcastle Institute and Newcastle Now will hold a public forum Smart/Creative City, on July 14, at Panthers Newcastle, 6pm.

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