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What is Digital Innovation?  

6th September, 2018

The Digital Innovation Festival – or DIF- was originally launched in 2016 by the State Government of Victoria. The key objective of the DIF is to be an enabler for all Victorians, along with national and international visitors, to contribute, collaborate and celebrate the impact of digital innovation both now and in the future.

But what is digital innovation, how does it affect us all and how can we contribute to the DIF?

We asked Kathy Coultas, Director of Strategic Innovation Investment for the State Government of Victoria to explain more about the festival – ‘The DIF is a platform for everyone, it’s about digital innovation across the entire state. We want to connect together the tech sector, tech experts and academics but also people within Melbourne and in regional Victoria, business owners, community groups and individuals. It is really about helping Victorians understand that digital innovation is not trivial, it’s about our future as a state and it involves and creates opportunities for everyone.’

Kelly Hutchinson, program manager for the DIF continued ‘The DIF is about contributing – putting your hand up if you have an idea and collaborating. We can do so much more in partnership than we can by ourselves. We want people to connect, but on a meaningful level, and finally celebrating our success. It is about diversity and inclusion and open to all.’

Year on year the festival continues to grow. The 2018 DIF includes over 400 events spread across the whole of Victoria – from the ‘Digital you’ event in Bairnsdale, to the Bendigo Invention + Innovation Festival and the iAwards in Melbourne. The choice of what events to attend is vast and based on nine separate categories (including digtial skills, emerging technologies and entrepreneurs). With such a broad spectrum of events as part of the DIF, how do we explain Digital Innovation?

Phil Ore, DIF Champion and speaker at a number of events believes ‘Digital Innovation means different things to different people. It can be related to the using technology to simplify personal tasks, the improvement of business processes or creating a social impact on a global scale.’

The development of digital innovation and technology

“Apart from the obvious uses of computers and communications - such as email, online banking or streaming videos - digital innovation has affected almost every aspect of our lives” explains Dr. Peter Thorne, committee member of the Pearcey Foundation. “If you drive a car, make a phone call, take a ride in a train, a plane, or even a lift you are using products of the digital revolution. And the age of innovation is not over by any means. People and companies are finding new opportunities and developing new products and services in every conceivable field.’

Victoria’s distinguished history in innovation was highlighted in a recent blog relating to Emerging Technologies. Some of the early innovators were based in Ballarat, including Henry Sutton (1856-1912), who was a student and later staff member at the Ballarat School of Mines. Nowadays, Ballarat is building a strong hub of innovation thanks to an ecosystem that includes Federation University, a growing startup community, a proactive local council and digital innovation leaders (including IBM) having a made the city their home. The impact of digital innovation within the region is expected to grow considerably over the next decade.

Robert Layton, co-founder of Eurekative and Vice President of the Ballarat Hackerspace provided his thoughts - ‘The world runs on information, and digital innovation is about discovering and building new ways to work with this information.’ He added ‘I see regional areas growing significantly in both the short and long term. Through better connectivity, the need for high-skills jobs to be concentrated in cities has reduced dramatically. This has led to the ability for people to still do their work, but live in a region that provides a better lifestyle at the same time. The current innovation landscape in the region has changed dramatically in just the last year. When we started Eurekative, our startup prototyping company, it was really the only place for startups to go in Ballarat. In the time since, we have Runway, Platypus, Startup Ballarat, and lots more engagement from larger businesses too. We have started the next exciting phase in this area in Ballarat.’

The Melbourne hub for the DIF 2018 is Curate Space in Little Collins Street. During the festival a number of sessions are being run from the coworking space including Lunch and Learn sessions to improve Digital Skills and to grow an export business in the tech space, to name just a couple. The DIF has proven its diversity and inclusion through the establishment of the online event platform. Anyone with a relevant event has been able to add this to the festival program, ensuring a holistic approach to building knowledge for all participants.

So hopefully the next question after reading this is ‘How can I make the DIF?’. With many events still left to attend then please head to the Digital Innovation Festival’s What’s On page and find at least one event that you would like to join. By doing this you are making the first step in growing your knowledge, understanding how you can participate and meeting some interesting people.

Please get involved and then share your experience on how you feel you can make your own impact on digital innovation within Victoria.