Big startup names come together to advise Victorian government on innovation


Big names in the Victorian startup community will be teaming up to advise the state on the innovation sector as it looks to establish itself as a globally competitive ecosystem.

Minister for small business, innovation and trade Philip Dalidakis announced the state’s Innovation Expert Panel at the PauseFest conference in Melbourne on Friday.

The 15-person panel will provide advice to government on “innovation, emerging trends and issues, disruptive technologies and their potential to impact business growth across all industry sectors”.

“This new panel is not just about leading Australia on innovation, which we are, it’s about helping us become the number one tech destination in the Asia-Pacific region,” Dalidakis says.

“We are well on our way to building a very strong innovation system here in Victoria and this talented group of industry leaders will help strengthen our position as a serious global competitor.”

The state government announced the board for the independent body overseeing its $60 million innovation fund last month, comprising mostly big business names.

In contrast, the majority of the innovation panel is made up of local founders and entrepreneurs, as well as some members from the public and private sectors.

The panel will be chaired by Victoria’s lead scientist Dr Leonie Walsh and includes 2Mar Robotics and Aipoly founder Marita Cheng, managing director of Zendesk Brett Adam, Data61 CEO Adrian Turner and STC Australia CEO Dr Buzz Palmer.

Similarly to the LaunchVic board, more than half of members of the innovation panel are women, with Dalidakis again emphasising the importance of gender diversity.

Victoria’s Innovation Expert Panel:

Dr Leonie Walsh – Victoria’s lead scientist
Brett Adam – managing director, Zendesk
Dr Joanna Batstone – vice president, IBM research
Marita Cheng – founder, 2Mar Robotics and Aipoly
Dr Kate Cornick – managing director, Rision
Tessa Herd Court – CEO and director, IntelligenceBank
Mohinder Jaimangal – director, Curve Tomorrow
Jonathan Jeffries – co-founder, OneStack
Emily Lee – managing director, Mercer Capital
Adam Nowiski – director (APAC), Nitro
Dr Buzz Palmer – CEO, STC Australia
Dr Melis Senova – founder and chief entrepreneur, Huddle
Kerri Lee Sinclair – CEO, QSR International
Chris Thomas – managing partner, Differential
Adrian Turner – CEO, Data61

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Denham Sadler is the editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.