Tania de Jong
Ten scholarship places have been announced to attend this year’s Creative Innovation Asia Pacific Conference in Melbourne in November. Creative Innovation is one of the largest innovation-focused events in Australia, with producer Tania de Jong telling StartupSmart it is a powerful event for start-ups to attend. “The most important thing for innovation is cross-pollination of ideas,” she says. “The positive human collision happens at the conference by coming together across sectors, across big business, start-ups and SMEs, government, academia and not-for-profits from all industries.” Scholarship recipients receive free attendance and the opportunity to present a 60-second pitch to event delegates. Entrepreneurs in any sector are invited to apply, but de Jong says start-ups need more than an idea. “You have to be in process and able to show people that you have a fantastic proposition and you’re likely to be successful and you’re worth backing,” de Jong says. “Our theme is ‘race towards the future’, so you need to be in that race with the potential to make an enormous difference to the future.” She adds that social entrepreneurs have been the most successful sector in past scholarship applications, mostly because they were usually already rolling out their ideas and change-focused. De Jong says the event is designed to spur Australians to be more innovative. “We don’t want to just be the beach, the quarry and the farm,” she says. “We need to use our potential and we need to get better at commercialising our ideas, because we don’t have a good enough culture for innovation. We’re very risk averse in general. You have to fail to succeed; you’ve got to do it quickly so you can move on.” De Jong says innovation is not just about start-ups, although they play a key role. “Workplace culture is responsible for a lot. You need the time and permission to innovate, and not succeed every time,” she says. Applications close August 15 and the scholarship recipients will be announced in September.