Innovation Week 2012 - Huge effort pays off

Helen Bailey is a member of the I-Gen team at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

Innovation Week...a great success, yet again!

We—the I-Gen team at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—have emerged from sleep deprivation, caffeine poisoning and a sugar overdose to a state of post-event euphoria.   

After the success of the inaugural Innovation Week at DAFF in 2011, we decided to do it again. Yes, we’re gluttons for punishment! But, we do it for the greater good and it’s actually fun.

Luckily, we weren’t alone. Our creative counterparts at the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and other agencies joined us for the rollercoaster ride of event management.

Early on, we all gathered in the DAFF boardroom with coffee, tea and whiteboards for the first of many meetings. We talked strategy, themes, speakers, activities, venues and logistics. We landed on the overarching theme of ‘collaboration’ because it’s what innovation is all about—working together on new ideas to respond more efficiently and effectively to challenges.

So, what did our hard work result in? I’ll tell you what happened at DAFF. The other departments can speak for themselves, of course.

We hosted 16 discussions, workshops, seminars, tours, TED talks and networking events. More than 800 people turned up so we reckon there’s an appetite for talking about new ideas and meeting new people.

What did we hear about? Lots of really interesting topics from some great presenters—stakeholder engagement, innovating in the rural sector, the characteristics of good leadership, the National Broadband Network, managing ideas, sustainable agriculture, insects and many more.

A hugely popular session was Chocolate Flavoured Science—putting ‘chocolate’ in the title guarantees a crowd. Dynamic Dr Sarah Pearson from the Australian National University, and formerly Cadburys, talked about how scouring the earth for new ideas and joining forces with unlikely partners leads to better business outcomes for everyone, including the creation of ‘ballistic’ lollies. While Sarah talked, the audience tasted some of the goodies mentioned—chocolate, chewing gum and Pop Rocks. Mmm...delicious.

For us, the blood, sweat and tears were all worth it. Our colleagues have stopped us in the corridors, wide-eyed and full of excitement, to tell us how inspirational they found the talks and to ask when the next Innovation Week will be. So, we must be doing something right.

Thanks to everyone who organised and participated in the event. Without you, it wouldn’t be an event at all!