I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting, learning, observing and asking ‘what else’ this month. I spent a week in Melbourne, attending Melbourne Knowledge Week and the Australian Smart Communities Association Conference. And then of course, back home, I was totally immersed in Myriad, Queensland’s startup and innovation conference.
Both were a great opportunity to reflect on just how far we’ve come in Brisbane’s digital transformation journey. In meetings and conversations with Melbourne’s Smart City and City Lab teams, we exchanged ideas and laughed at similar challenges. Refreshingly, Brisbane is punching above its weight in this regard, and at no stage did I feel the urge to ‘catch up’ to Melbourne. Rather, I was comforted and validated in our approaches to Open Innovation, through Brisbane Innovate, and our Smart, Connected Brisbane framework, which places the human experience of the city ahead of tech. As one of the keynote presenters at the ASCA conference, I shared, proudly, how Brisbane’s approach to ‘smart and connected’ is more about building capability and collaboration opportunities within council and the city’s economic players than it is about installing ‘smart devices’. In fact, as I reflected, Brisbane is always looking for the best technology to serve current and future needs – so, in fact, our ‘smart’ conversation isn’t one of the latest tech, rather it’s how do we do things ‘smarter’, ‘better’, and more effectively as organisations.
Myriad – well, that was simply icing on a pretty delicious cake. The buzz created in the week-long celebration of startups and innovation was better than anything I’ve experienced locally, and the quality of discussions and speakers on the Dock & Coast stages rivalled those I’ve seen at Austin’s SxSW. From future of agriculture to colonising Mars or the Moon, to diversity in venture capital to local entrepreneurs’ real stories … Myriad both reminded us why innovation is so valuable and the fact that the Queensland and Australian ecosystem really are competing, well, on the global stage.
As part of Myriad I was so buzzed to be a part of the QUT’s Chair in Digital Economy event, The ART of Digital. A number of panellists discussed with Marek Kowalkiewicz, the ART – the Aspiration, Responsibility and Trust of tech. It was a rich and robust discussion, ABC’s Steve Austin described it as evangelical even, calling into question society’s new roles as digital technology has reshaped societal pillars like politics and media. All the panel discussions were recorded as podcasts, so rather than giving you spoilers here, stay tuned as we release them. The event, held at the Tivoli, was quite the digital rock star event, kicking off with the incredible duo from Pub Choir warming up the crowd, finishing with a powerfully emotive virtual reality artist reminding us of our place in the universe, and juicy, juicy conversations in between.
Also as part of Myriad, the Lord Mayor hosted a business breakfast with our current cohort of Global Entrepreneur grant recipients. I love these breakfasts – the opportunity for local businesses to share their stories with the Lord Mayor, and for me, having attended them for the past three years, to see the sophistication of the entrepreneurs around the table. As we’ve highlighted before, this round’s cohort includes the ‘fitbit for machines’, AI for gold discovery, industry-changing technology platforms, and nutritious, pre-packaged meals being distributed throughout the entire east coast. I really was like a proud mum at breakfast, and so deeply humbled and proud of how we, as a city and community, wrap our arms around each other.
It’s been an extraordinary month – and I actually hope June is a little quieter so I can take time to build on our momentum.