InnovationACT is a fantastic program which provides opportunities in entrepreneurship to participants, and encourages innovation in Canberra. This year’s program is open to all comers, not just students, staff and alumni of Canberra’s major tertiary education institutions. Those who aren’t students, staff or alumni, won’t be able to compete for the grant funding offered. They will however have access to the materials and workshops provided throughout the program. This year’s program, like previous, will see participants compete for a share in a grant funding pool of $50,000. Preliminary events are currently underway in the lead up to the program’s formal launch on the 12th of August.
The 2015 InnovationACT program is set to be the most exciting and engaging iteration of the program so far. The team behind InnovationACT have outdone themselves, launching a number of new initiatives, which complement the already engaging InnovationACT program. These new initiatives include the Stir education platform and changes to the InnovationACT program. Currently the Great IACT 15 Team Hunt is occurring, preceding the formal launch of the InnovationACT program. During the team hunt period, Canberra’s budding entrepreneurs are encouraged to selectively source team members who have compatible skill sets.
The Great IACT 15 Team Hunt is complemented by the Bridge Network Experiment. The fortnightly event provides an opportunity for teams to meet and choose team members in a fun, interactive environment, while exploring the theory behind collaboration. The Bridge Network Experiment brings together students, entrepreneurs, professionals and academics, providing a structured environment in which they can make meaningful connections. The Bridge Network Experiment acts to encourage a forum for the exchange of ideas, and the resulting collaborative synergy; fostering an environment in which people from all disciplines can recognise the value they have to contribute to a diverse range of endeavours. Student attendees are extended the chance to connect with a variety of like-minded peers and potential mentors, while discovering the professional frameworks which inform and enhance commercial endeavours. The fortnightly Bridge Network Experiment events have a relaxed, fun feel, with participants engaging in interactive games and challenges to build their networking skills. Previous Bridge Network Experiment events have been held in the CBR Innovation Network’s Innovation lab. The location for upcoming Bridge Network Experiment events is set to be announced shortly, follow the Bridge Network Experiment over Facebook to keep abreast of announcements.
The Stir educational platform aims to encourage the involvement of Canberra’s youth in entrepreneurship and innovation. Stir’s inaugural initiative was a community vote based program to award fifteen individual one thousand dollar micro-grants to eligible projects. The Stir platform focuses on youth in innovation and entrepreneurship, this is reflected by its fifteen to thirty eligible age range for participants uploading projects. The Stir platform encourages Canberra’s youth to become involved in entrepreneurship and innovation, by offering monetary support to projects which receive ground swell community support. InnovationACT is a logical follow on from the Stir platform as it allows participants a structured framework in which to further their ideas and to realise potential commercial values.
Other new initiatives and features of this year’s InnovationACT program include planned information sessions to be held at both the Canberra Institute of Technology and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. These information sessions will introduce the InnovationACT program to the students of both institutions, and heighten their awareness of entrepreneurship and innovation. The 2015 InnovationACT program will also include more interaction with the relevant student societies of Canberra’s major tertiary education providers. There will also be increased mentor interaction in this year’s program, along with a running blog which will chronicle key developments.
This year’s InnovationACT program will also feature a points-based system which will measure teams’ engagement with the program and the materials provided. Last year’s program also featured a points-based system, however this year’s points system is to be more comprehensive. Participating teams will be asked to complete a series of ongoing tasks which will be assessed and taken into consideration throughout the program. Only the top twenty teams will have their ideas reviewed by the judging panel. This year’s more rigorous points system is part of a wider, considered move to increase engagement both on the part of participants and mentors with this year’s program and materials.
As with previous year’s InnovationACT programs, this year’s program also features events geared towards Canberra’s academic community, the Spark ANU and Spark UC workshops. The Spark ANU workshop has already occurred, though more will follow later in the year. The Spark UC workshop will be occurring in the coming months, the date is set to be announced. The Spark ANU and Spark UC events give academics and higher research degree students the opportunity to discover how their learned skillsets can lend themselves to entrepreneurship and innovation. Academics and higher degree research students obviously have a wealth of knowledge in particular fields. Learning how to apply this knowledge and seek the commercial value of their ideas is of obvious benefits to both them, and Canberra’s growing ‘innovation ecosystem’.
A Collaborator Invitational event is being setup to involve relevant academic and social organisations from the six tertiary institutions in Canberra. The individual organisations who often foster their own communities will meet to discuss the program, the collaboration it fosters within the city and ways to provide opportunities for potential participants and non-participant followers within those communities.
A full-day team building workshop will be held on the 15th of August. The workshop will introduce participants in the InnovationACT program to the theory behind effective and harmonious team selection, and engagement toward a common goal. An expert consult event will be held on the 20th of August, to assist teams with the allocation of individual team member’s roles and responsibilities. A vision, brand and pitch workshop will follow on the 22nd of August. A mentor matching evening event will be held on the 26th of August. More events and workshops will follow during the 2015 InnovationACT program, visit the program’s website for key dates and follow InnovationACT over Facebook for regular updates.
Again, the InnovationACT program is a fantastic resource for Canberra’s budding entrepreneurs, acting to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. This year everyone in the ACT region has the chance to participate in the program and gain valuable insights into how to commercialise their ideas. Registration for the 2015 InnovationACT program is now open to individuals, team registrations will open shortly, visit the program’s website to register.