InnovationAus 2021 Awards for Excellence

James Riley
Editorial Director

After six years of publishing news and insights about Australia’s industry policy landscape, we are incredibly proud to launch the inaugural InnovationAus Awards for Excellence, a celebration of the people and companies changing the nation.

In our editorial coverage, InnovationAus covers a broad horizontal innovation ecosystem, connecting readers from across the different silos of government, academia, institutional research, big business and startups.

Our sector is ready for an awards program that celebrates not just Australia’s research excellence, but excellence in the translation of that research into commercial or social impact outcomes as well.

It highlights Australian excellence in non-R&D innovation and the use of applied technology in building our industries of the future.


The awards are a six-month program of discovery, where InnovationAus will profile our best and brightest companies through editorial profiles, podcasts and videos. Our focus is on the Australian heroes who are driving the wealth-creating innovation and long-term economic and social value for the nation.

We are exceptionally proud to launch these awards with a set of foundation sponsors that include Verizon Business Group, Sitecore, Squiz, Microsoft Australia, CSIRO, Mimecast and Agile Digital.

The program culminates in a black-tie awards ceremony – a true Commercial Disco – on November 18 at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. This is a night to celebrate our successes in Australia, and to publicly recognise the people and companies behind those successes.

We will dance the night away.

Early-bird entries for the awards open on Friday June 4.

“We are lucky at InnovationAus in that we come across very interesting people and companies doing incredible things who don’t always get the kind of profile they deserve. But, the reality is there are people in Australia doing amazing things that we should all be very proud of,” InnovationAus publisher Corrie McLeod said.

“We want to put a spotlight on these Australian heroes, the people who are taking ideas and creating value – whether that is through wealth creation and high-value local jobs and expertise, or through long-term positive social impact.

“There is incredible energy in our tech and innovation ecosystem right now and we want to harness that and help change the way that Australians think about research, IP translation and the commercial innovation,” Ms McLeod said.

The 2021 InnovationAus Awards for Excellence have been in development for six months and relied on the advice of our Expert Advisory Panel:

  • Professor Roy Green – UTS Innovation, Chair Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub, Chair Port of Newcastle
  • Luli Adeyemo – Founder/Director Best Case Scenario, and Director, TechDiversity Foundation.
  • David Wright – Executive Chair Rozetta Technologies and Managing Director Aqua Ventures
  • Claire McFarland – Honorary Association United States Studies Centre
  • Adrian Beer – Chief Executive, METS Ignited Industry Growth centre
  • Dianna Somerville – Chair Regional Development Australia Riverina, Founder Regional PitchFest
  • Phil Morle – Partner Main Sequence Ventures and Chair V2 Foods
  • Wilma James – Founder and Innovation Adviser Profitable Innovation

The 2021 InnovationAus Awards for Excellence cover a set of 11 categories that reflects broad nature of our innovation ecosystems. We have sought to build our categories to align with national strategic priorities.

The categories are:

This broad category will include entries across the spectrum of other industries – from Australian designed and built satellites, to mineral processing, food products and everything in between. We hope this category also attracts successful pivots of IP during COVID-19 to meet supply chain shortages.

Since the launch of the first Australian Government Cybersecurity Strategy in 2016, the local cyber ecosystem has built steadily. From a handful of companies five years ago, there are now hundreds of Australian cyber companies – many based on deep-tech research in everything from cryptography to Artificial Intelligence.

Value-added food production and AgriTech have been a focus of innovation investment in this country. This is in both food processing as well as production and range from high-tech sensor devices and farm-based robotics and automation to the at-scale production of plant-based meat and other protein products.

The pandemic has put a huge spotlight on biotechs through the detailed mainstream discussion about vaccines and vaccine manufacturing. Australians are good at this stuff. Our research community is exceptional, and the commercialisation of that research is strong.

The technology that supports the mining sector in Australia is highly advanced; whether it’s remote operation of highly-automated operations – including autonomous robotics – or the software systems that drive those operations. Australia has an incredible technology track record that we want to highlight.

This category seeks to reward ambition and innovation in the renewable energy sector. Commercial research in this area is fast growing and holds tremendous promise for the nation. From hydrogen extraction technologies and solar cell improvements to the management software systems.

The space sector was a lonely place to be in up until recently – now it is a hotbed of activity. From launch companies to companies with ambitions for global satellite constellations, the Award goes to our most ambitious entrepreneurs. We include remote automation in this category because there is so much cross-over.

The defence sector has been a stand-out in collaborations of partners – of researchers, private SMEs and multinational corporations, covering the full, vast array of technologies consumed by the defence community. This award seeks to highlight the best, most valuable collaborations between research and industry.

Recognising an innovative product or service that has found institution-based IP, created a team around it, and successfully taken it to commercial realm. There are boundless examples here, from plant-based meat production to mineral processing, and space initiatives

Our judges select a final panel of the most ambitious and most outstanding entries to the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence – and allow our readers to vote on their choice for the most outstanding Australian innovation of the year.

This award recognises the individual (or leaders of a company) whose ambition and drive has resulted in a game-changing innovation, and a fabulous commercial success. These are the heroes that we must celebrate in this Australian life we are creating.

For more information, see the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence website.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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