Festival of Ambitious Ideas

Festival of Ambitious Ideas showcases some of the innovative businesses and initiatives in Canberra across a variety of sectors. The theme for this event was ‘Female Innovators’, and celebrated some of the female CEOs, founders, inventors and innovators working on interesting projects in the ACT region.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.

 Female Innovators 2017 Speakers:

Dr Naomi Mathers, ANU Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Caterina Giorgi, For Purpose Australia

Hala Batainah, Microsoft Australia

Lorinda Wyatt, Zoo Group

Dr Joy McCann, Senior Researcher & Historian

Professor Sudha Rao, EpiAxis Therapeutics

Lana Mitchell, The Nest at Gundaroo

Sheryle Moon, Spinify

Monica Penders, ScreenACT

Priya Katti & Nastaran Nemati, Seeing Machines

Erica Hediger, The Creative Element

Alison Plevey, Australian Dance Party


Festival of Ambitious Ideas showcases some of the innovative businesses and initiatives in Canberra across a variety of sectors. The theme for this event was ‘Lessons from the Future’, where our speakers explored a range of future trends and discussed the importance of looking to the future to inspire our actions today.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.

 Lessons from the Future 2017 Speakers:

Michael McGoogan, The RiotACT

Nick McDonald-Crowley, Capital Estate Developments

Marianne Gould, MyHealthTest

Olympia Yarger, Goterra

Beth Berry, Life Pharmacy Group

Lesley Harris, Capital Giving

Dr Damith Herath, University of Canberra

Mae van Rensburg, Brand New Mindset

Morteza Saberi, UNSW Canberra

Charne Esterhuizen, MAAK

Dr Vini Gautam, Australian National University

John De Margheriti, Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE)


In wealthier countries such as Australia, 50% of our current Year 11's who were born in 2000 will get to celebrate their 100th birthday. This has implications for everything from healthcare to urban design, education and economics. The Age of Longevity is not simply about solving problems related to aged care, but also about how we prepare our young people for the future.

At this Festival of Ambitious Ideas our speakers from a range of industries and sectors explored some of the challenges, opportunities and innovations associated with living longer.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.

The 100 Year Life 2017 Speakers:

Anna Pino, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre

Patrick Reid, StewartBrown

Andrew Buttsworth, Westpac

Andrew Scotford, CITSA

Lynette Murray, ActonAdviceGroup

Gregor Mews, Urban Synergies Group

David Rose, Vincents Chartered Accountants

Jared Wilkins, Questacon

Ron Forrester, OPF Consulting

Jennifer Thompson, Engaging Solutions

Phillip Jones, Two Degrees Group

Tim Blackman, HeartFood

Diana Ryan, Pialligo Estate


In celebration of the year that was 2016, this Festival of Ambitious Ideas brought together some of the individuals and organisations who have been working on innovative projects across a range of different sectors - technology, social enterprises, young entrepreneurs, creative industries, government and academia.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.

Interesting People Doing Interesting Things 2016 Speakers:

Anna Pino, Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre

Michael Tear, WildBear Entertainment

Peter Mckie, iSimulate

Miles Jakeman, Citadel Group

Bree Winchester, The Canberra Times

David Edwards, automed

Dr Dennis McNevin, University of Canberra

Andrew Marriott, The Film Distillery

Phil Preston, Red Robot Industries

Julie Nichols, The Local Larder

Mark Cartwright, Royal Australian Mint

Andrew Snell, Rollercoaster Digital

Zak Sequoia, Crowd Carnivore


Most of today's innovative social solutions cut across the traditional boundaries separating nonprofits, government, and for-profit businesses. Our twelve speakers will be looking at ideas and projects that have required innovation, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit to do things differently.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas: Social Innovation 2016 Speakers

Georgina Byron, Snow Foundation

Craig Fitzgerald, Aspen Medical

Cathleen Jackson, Niamh Martin and Deakin Jewell, Radford College

Deborah Evans, Tjillari Justice

Melanie Saballa, ACT Government - ACT Microcredit Loan Program

Noreen Vu, OrangeSky Laundry

James Gutteridge, Teach for Australia

Michael Bones, Future Super

Frances Crimmins, YWCA Canberra

Ian Ross & Lee Harrison, Homeshare

Richard Etherington, Kokonut Pacific

Nathan Steggel, Windlab

Matt Tripet, The Fly Program


By 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in cities compared to 55% in 2016.

At this Festival of Ambitious Ideas, our speakers discussed their views on the concept of “Future Cities”, looking at the challenges, as well as the opportunities and innovations that will impact on people’s everyday lives in the future.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas is proudly sponsored by the Canberra Airport.


Festival of Ambitious Ideas: Future Cities 2016 Speakers:

Stephen Byron from the Canberra Airport

James Kavanagh from Microsoft

Dr Lachlan Blackhall from Reposit Power

Adrian Faccioni from Axsys Performance

Simon Butt from Manteena

Ken Kroeger from Seeing Machines

Professor Rachel Davey from the University of Canberra

Jeremy Fisher from Kingfisher Law

Dr Will Steffen from the Australian National University

Aaron Clausen from NatureMapr

Adriane Boag from the National Gallery of Australia

Elisabeth Judd from Elton Consulting


To celebrate the ACT Microcredit Program's 5th Anniversary, this year's Festival of Ambitious Ideas showcased 12 speakers from a variety of sectors including family business, social enterprises, education institutions, young entrepreneurs, clean technology, ICT, creative industries, government and academia.

The theme for this year's Festival of Ambitious Ideas was the 'Future of Work' and each speaker shared their experiences of how they have harnessed drivers of change such as flexible work, globalisation and collaborative technologies to meet future challenges.

Thank you to our sponsors: Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE), Westpac Institutional Bank, CBR Innovation Network, Vincents Chartered Accountants, WOTSO WorkSpace and Orana Steiner School for providing an incredible venue.

A big thank you to our speakers, including our keynote Professor Brian Schmidt from the the Australian National University and Yvette Berry MLA, Minster for Community Services.


Festival of Ambitious Ideas 2015 Speakers:

Yvette Berry MLA, Minister for Community Services

Professor Brian Schmidt, Australian National University

Dee Whitby, Orana Steiner School

Sarah Pearson, CBR Innovation Network

Sebastian Perri, Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE)

Calum Spring, Cardboard Keep

Kelli Donovan, Pure Pod

Kate Freeman, The Healthy Eating Hub

Joanna Richards, Solution Solution

Jo Scard, Fifty Acres

Jennifer Hancock, WOTSO WorkSpace

Clare Gilligan, Makers Lane

Kim Houghton, Strategic Economic Solutions

Tony Lane, Vincents Chartered Accountants


Speakers at the Ignite March 2013 event included:

Stephen Byron - Canberra Airport

Mat Power - Wedz

Luke Veikkanen - Plant Web

Richard Everson - Poachers Way

Darren Menachemson - HealthSafari

Robert Bunzil - Naitonal Museum of Australia

Paul Stapleton - NICTA

Rachel Evagelou - Shop Handmade

Joanne Banyer - Connecting Spaces

Roland Goeck - University of Canberra

Nunzio Gambale - Bearcage

Nathan Steggle - Windlab

Marcus Dawe - Greenmag

Nunzio Gambale - Locata

David Heacock - StalkThis


 Speakers at the Ignite November 2013 event included:

Denis Jorgensen - UberGlobal

Lachlan Blackhall - SimplyShow.me

Ken Kroeger - Seeing Machines

Sharon Long - Vegies to Your Door

Adrian Faccioni - GPSports

Amber Standley - APositive

Darren Stewart - Makin Trax

Nina Sochon - Teleworkhowto.com

Scott Chamberlain - Chamberlains Law Firm

Bea Brickhill - CityArt Project

Dr Clare Holleley - The Sugar Glider Genetics Project

Jim McGrath - Nican App


 Speakers at the Festival of Ambitious Ideas 2014 included:

Stuart Kohlhagen - Questacon, The National Science and Technology Centre

Dave Budge - Isobar Australia

Victor Pantano - Lithicon

Danielle Raimet - Delv

Brian Tunks - Bison

Julie Okely - Dilkara Essence of Australia

Ezekiel Ochieng - BurHur

Keats Nelms - Beta Therapeutics

Lynette Murray - ActonAdvice

Francis Owusu - Kulture Break

John De Margheriti - Academy of Interactive Entertainment