Bounty from space science; biotech; and building bridges and bright young minds

Media releases, National Science Week

Innovation-focused events around Australia

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Local and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview and photo opportunities around the country.

  • Where is Australia’s innovative future headed? The inaugural AFR Innovation Summit ­– Pyrmont, NSW
  • What do robots and the Space Age represent for minerals and wealth? – Newcastle, NSW
  • From the sheep’s back to the resources boom: what’s next? – Brisbane, QLD
  • World Biotech Tour comes to Scitech – West Perth, WA
  • What will NASA’s search for ‘Terra Nova’ yield? – SA, NSW and ACT
  • Can smart technology save our planet? – Ultimo, NSW
  • A multinational engineering company is building bridges from sticks, string and cardboard, with kids – Darwin, NT
  • Surveying oceans with robots – Launceston, TAS
  • The global biohacking revolution – Eveleigh, NSW

… and there’s more on each below.

Find more National Science Week events online at

Where is Australia’s innovative future headed? – Pyrmont, NSW

What needs to be done to create the capabilities, industries and mentalities Australia needs for the future?

Join Greg Hunt, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science; Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist; Alex Zelinsky, our Chief Defence Scientist; Larry Marshall, CEO of CSIRO; and Bill Ferris, Chair of Innovation and Science Australia, for the inaugural Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit.

Optimising Australia’s R&D landscape; reforming our approach to risk and entrepreneurship; transforming our scientific, digital, and technological capabilities; and growing the industries of the future – these are all complex, weighty challenges, demanding not just significant investment, but genuine structural change. At the individual business level, too, innovation is increasingly essential for survival, but notoriously difficult to drive, measure, and direct.

Wed 17 – Thurs 18 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Alana Piper, or 02 9080 4333

The Space Age: minerals, wealth and robots – Newcastle, NSW

Exponential technological development within robotics, space exploration, transportation and remote mineral processing techniques are leading us headlong into the ‘Space Age’. These space age developments directly affect every global citizen in ways that will surprise you.

Speaker Kim Ellis is a ‘Space Lawyer, Science and Technology Expert’. She is a qualified resource industry research scientist, lawyer and is an Adjunct Faculty for the International Space University.

Tues 16 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Simone Meakin, or 02 4931 6720

From the sheep’s back to the resources boom and beyond: what’s next for the innovation agenda? – Nathan, QLD

From the sheep’s back to the resources boom, Australia’s economic drivers are constantly changing. We are now in the information age where data has moved from a backroom process of industry to a commodity in its own right.

With the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland innovation agenda and the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, our governments are striving to diversify the economy through science, technology and innovation. However, Australia’s transition to a new knowledge-based economy cannot be achieved by government alone.

Join us for a discussion on how university, industry, and governments can work together to strengthen our existing industries and create new opportunities to diversify our economy.

Professor Neal Ryan’s academic and industrial experiences provide a balanced analysis of the contemporary policies on science, technology, and innovation, and a framework for a national system of innovation to successfully transition to a knowledge-based economy. Dr. David Tuffley will extend on these themes by investigating the nexus between technology and society and how new technologies work with the society.

Wed 17 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Damian Harris, or 07 5552 7551

What space robots are on the cards for NASA? ‘The Future of US Planetary Exploration’ – SA, NSW and ACT

Inn 1 Excited about Juno and the Mars Curiosity rover? American astronautics expert Dr Randii Wessen knows the technology we will be excited about in 20 to 30 years.

Randii has been an employee of the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1984 and is the A-Team Lead Study Architect for JPL’s Innovation Foundry. He’s in Australia for two weeks to discuss the robotic planetary missions currently in operations at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and those planned for the upcoming decades. The public talk will include the search for ‘Terra Nova,’ an Earth-like planet outside our Solar System.

Randi will be hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics as part of the 2016 Distinguished Lecture Program.

Adelaide: Tues 16 Aug Event details

Sydney: Thurs 18 Aug Event details

Canberra: Mon 22 Aug Event details

Canberra and Sydney – Andrew Gong, or 02 9351 7621

Adelaide – Stewart Jones, or 0418 814 274

The Global Biohack Revolution – Eveleigh, NSW

Meet the biohackers from Australia and around the world who are leading the global biotechnology revolution.

The panel, consisting of Meow-Meow Ludo (Biohack Sydney, BioFoundry), Andrew Gray (Biohack Melbourne, BioQuisitive), JJ Hastings (BioQuisitive, London Biohackspace), Oron Catts (SymbioticA Perth) and Ellen Jorgensen (Genspace New York), will discuss the challenges and opportunities in democratisation of science through biohacking with a focus on education and commercialisation of research.

This initiative is supported by Inspiring Australia as part of Sydney Science Festival for National Science Week, and hosted by BioFoundry and ATP Innovations.

Thurs 18 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Maria Oh, or 0421 186 949

The World Biotech Tour comes to Scitech – West Perth, WA

Scitech has been selected as one of four international science centres to host the World Biotech Tour (WBT) in 2016. Through WBT, Scitech will bring together students, teachers, researchers, industry and the general public to demonstrate the relevance, excitement and wonder of biotechnology in WA.

WBT is a multi-year initiative that will bring biotechnology to life at select science centres and museums worldwide. The program, supported by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and Biogen Foundation, aims to increase the impact and visibility of biotechnology among youth and the general public through hands-on and discussion-led learning opportunities.

There’ll be a prehistoric biotech scavenger hunt and DIY cheek cell biopsies at the schools event. And at the families event, meet some scientists and learn how to do your own biotechnology experiments at home.

Schools event: Mon 15 – Fri 19 August, Families event: Sat 20 – Sun 21 August. Event details

Enquiries: Tara Broadhurst, or 08 9215 0848

Can smart technology save our planet? – Ultimo, NSW

Save the planet? There’s an app for that. The GreenHouse will explore the role of our bright digital future in saving the planet. Does social media ‘clicktivism’ or that latest app really make a difference? Can innovative startups create significant systemic change or are they a distraction from political solutions?

We’ll ask: is smart, new technology the key to our greatest environmental challenges or a utopian distraction? If we are to strive for positive change, how then do we navigate this smart digital world with realistic expectations and well-considered strategies? How do we harness the energy and dynamism of the digital revolution to save the planet?

Tues 16 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Sydney Science Festival, or 02 9298 3110

Building bridges with bright young minds – Darwin, NT

Inn 2 Aurecon wants to invest in the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathmaticians. So they’re having a bridge building competition to encourage 1000 Year 8 and 9 high school students to develop their understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths, and bring their ideas to life by building a bridge using icy pole sticks, string, glue and cardboard.

The competition not only provides students with a bridge engineering challenge to solve, but also provides the avenue of feedback from expert judges. The battle for the cash prizes will be played out in front of all local participating schools at each judging location, with the spectacle of seeing the bridges load-tested to destruction.

Science, technology, engineering and maths subjects are the building blocks for the inquisitive, adventurous and inventive to make engineering and technology work, but are also considered to be an important building block for the future of the Australian economy.

Darwin judging: Fri 26 Aug Event details

See the results of judging in other cities:

Enquiries: Karina Randall, or 0414 823 712

Surveying oceans with robots ­– Launceston, TAS

A fleet of robots will soon be surveying the depths of our oceans, based at a new $750,000 state-of-the-art facility. It’s set to position the Australian Maritime College in Launceston, Tasmania, as a world leader in underwater robotic technologies.

Join Peter King, coordinator of the new Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Facility, to learn more about this unique facility and the marine robots it will be home to.

Sun 28 Aug Event details

Enquiries: Chel Bardell, or 03 6362 3102

About National Science Week

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in over 1,500 events and activities.

In 2016, National Science Week events will be held right throughout Australia—from astronomy at Uluru to a science film night in the Antarctic—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and sponsors Cosmos, Discovery Science, NewScientist and Popular Science.

National Science Week 2016 will run from 13 – 21 August. Event details can be found at

National Science Week general media enquiries:

Tanya Ha – or call 0404 083 863