Co-founder, Australian Futures Project
Ralph Ashton co-founded the Australian Futures Project in 2012 to improve how Australia creates its future. He has a track record of conceiving, building, and leading non-partisan initiatives to tackle cross-sectoral challenges.
Previously, Ralph spent a decade leading international public policy initiatives, working closely on every continent with governments, the United Nations, World Bank, business, academia, and non-profits. This included coordinating WWF’s global response to the Indian Ocean earthquakes and tsunami, and convening and chairing the multi-disciplinary international Terrestrial Carbon Group. Ralph has held visiting positions at Columbia University and the Australian National University and is well versed in providing advice on mergers and acquisitions as both a lawyer and an investment banker.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovator, Bupa
Deeply dedicated to the wellbeing of young people, the Veteran community and people living with a disability; Jane Burns is an accomplished mental health innovator known for her bold and creative impact in the care industry.
Jane joined beyondblue (the national depression initiative) in its startup phase, establishing and managing the youth agenda before moving on as a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow at the University of California. She held a VicHealth fellowship at the University of Melbourne and completed her PhD in Medicine as a National Health and Medical Research Council Scholar at the University of Adelaide. In 2017, her passion for people led to her founding InnoWell, a collaborative venture between PwC, the world’s leading professional services firm, and the University of Sydney. Jane was a winner in the category of Social Enterprise for 2015’s Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence. Jane also serves as Chair for youth-focused social enterprise StrEAT and Veterans and Family Counselling services Open Arms, founded by Vietnam Veterans.
Head – Corporate Communications at Community Housing Ltd Group; President – AIBC Victoria; VMC’s Regional Advisory Council for the North West Metropolitan Region
Preeti Daga is a seasoned communications expert with over 15 years of experience across private, public and not for profit sectors in India and Australia.
Preeti is the Global Head of Corporate Communications at Community Housing, Australia’s largest for-purpose affordable and social housing provider with over 11,000 properties under management and a global presence that spans across eight countries. Her experience ranges from strategic communications, advocacy campaigns, stakeholder engagement to crisis and issues management across a diverse range of sectors and industries. She is also on the board of Public Relations Institute of Victoria and is the Chair of the Industry Advisory Committee for Public Relations at RMIT University.
Preeti is the President of the Australia India Business Council Victoria Chapter. The Council is the peak body fostering trade and business links between India and Australia for more than 33 years. She is also on Victorian Multicultural Council’s Regional Advisory Council for the North West Metropolitan Region advising on migrant and multicultural matters. Preeti is an Australia India Youth Dialogue Alumni (2019).
Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Preeti’s community work has been wide ranging from promoting anti bullying, awareness of domestic violence to youth mentorship. She is an Ambassador for premier Australian organisations including the AFL, Cricket Australia and Bully Zero Foundation.She is also one of the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup Brand Champions which is currently being hosted in Australia and New Zealand.
She was honoured with the 2018 Pride of Australia medal, Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Emerging Leadership Award (2018) and NRI Achievement Award in 2016.
Co-founder & Senior Partner & MD, Portable
Simon Goodrich is one of the Co-founders of Portable. Over the past 10 years, Simon has been committed to solving complex problems across the finance, legal, community and health sectors both here in Australia and the US. Simon serves as the Australian Ambassador for the New York-based Webby Awards (the Oscars for online) sits on the board of HISA, the digital health peak body, leading their innovation portfolio. He is an active mentor in the Melbourne University Accelerator Program, supporting innovative startups and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Sir Zelman Cowan Centre at Victoria University, supporting innovation in the justice space. He is past National President of AIMIA, at the time the peak digital body in Australia.
CEO, Lateral Economics
Lateral Economics’ CEO, Nicholas Gruen, is a widely published policy economist, entrepreneur commentator. He has advised Cabinet Ministers, sat on Australia’s Productivity Commission and founded Lateral Economics and Peach Financial. He is Visiting Professor at Kings College London and Adjunct Professor at UTS. He chairs the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australian Chapter) and is Patron of the Australian Digital Alliance, which brings together Australia’s libraries, universities, and major providers of digital infrastructure such as Google and Yahoo and a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia. Nicholas was Chair of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation until 2016 and Chair of the Australian Government’s principal innovation advisory body Innovation Australia until 2014. He was second shareholder and Chairman of successful San Francisco based startup data analytics crowdsourcing platform Kaggle, recently acquired by Google. He is an Angel investor in various other Australian and international startups including Breezedocs, Slant.co, HealthKit and Lendable. He was a member of a review of Pharmaceutical patent extensions in 2013. In 2009 he chaired Australia’s internationally acclaimed Government 2.0 Taskforce. In 2008 he was a member of a major review into Australia’s Innovation System. He has a BA (Hons – First Class) in History (1981) and a PhD in Public Policy from the ANU (1998), and an LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne (1982).
Founder & CEO, RevTech Media
Lachlan Harris is a rare breed – a former political staffer who got to the top and then transitioned seamlessly to pursuing his own business interests. He is the Founder of Budgie Smuggler. He’s also the Co-founder and CEO of the One Big Switch, a “next generation consumer network”. Before that, Lockie was former PM Kevin Rudd’s comms director.
Director, Piano Project – Tempo Rubato
Georgina Imberger is the president of Piano Project and director of Tempo Rubato. Piano Project is a Melbourne charity that provides piano lessons for children who have recently immigrated to Australia, many of whom come from refugee backgrounds. Tempo Rubato is Piano Project’s live classical music venue. All profits from Tempo Rubato go to Piano Project.
Georgina is also a Specialist Anaesthetist working at Western Health and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Centre for Critical Care. She has a PhD in research methods from Copenhagen University and a research interest in Meta-Research.
Founder & CEO, GippsTech
Dr Elena Kelareva is the Founder of GippsTech, an award-winning digital innovation consultancy with the mission of growing regional startup and tech ecosystems. Elena has a PhD in Computer Science from ANU and 15 years’ experience in innovation, startups and technology, including at Google where she was the Product Manager for the Google Maps Web APIs.
Since moving to regional Gippsland in 2017, Elena cofounded Binary Shift, one of Australia’s top regional innovation conferences, and worked with four local councils to create Startup Gippsland, the largest regional startup program ever to be run in Australia, with 46 startups going through one pre-accelerator program simultaneously. She has been recognised for her work on building regional startup and tech communities by being selected as one of three finalists for the Regional Development Victoria Leadership & Innovation Award 2018, and with being invited to present at conferences in other regional areas, including the Bendigo Invention & Innovation Festival and the Australian Regional Development Conference in Tweed Heads, NSW.
Elena has also been a mentor at the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), for the past 5 years. In her work at Google, MAP and GippsTech, she has personally mentored and supported over 100 startups, including the Telstra Business Awards 2019 Emerging and Energised category winner Sonder.
Director, Biomedical Translation Bridge Program, MTPConnect
Lauren Kelly has a proven track record in developing, leading, and managing new initiatives, multidisciplinary teams, biobanks and pre-clinical and clinical R&D projects. As the Director of the Biomedical Translation Bridge Program at MTPConnect, Lauren oversees this Medical Research Future Fund initiative, providing funding and support to nurture the translation of new therapies, technologies and medical devices through to commercial proof of concept.
Before joining MTPConnect, Lauren managed industry academia drug discovery and translational research programs centering around obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease at Monash University, and biomarker discovery and diagnostic development for neurodegenerative diseases and psychoses at the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health. Lauren also developed and directed industry engagement initiatives for the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and was the company secretary for two biotech startups. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business (Science & Technology).
Commercialisation Manager, CSIRO
Leong Mar is Commercialisation Manager at CSIRO and manages the commercialisation of a portfolio of technologies developed by the business units including Data61, Minerals and Manufacturing. Leong also sits on the Technology Investment Committee of Uniseed Investments, the sub-committee for the NSW Physical Sciences Fund and on the board of CSIRO spin-outs. When not doing deals, he is active in advising and mentoring startups on their entrepreneurial journey.
Leong has spent over 20 years in the technology innovation space, with a track record in identifying, developing and commercialising products and services in different industries. He has a unique combination of technical and commercial experience from across the innovation spectrum as research scientist, inventor, entrepreneur/founder, technology and business leader and investor, from roles in tech startups, small business, research organisations to a global science corporation. Leong has led the successful development and commercialisation of different technologies including multi award winning product and service solutions in the Mining Industry.
Managing Director, IP Group Australia
Mike Molinari is Managing Director of IP Group Australia. IP Group works closely with >30 partner universities globally, including the Group of Eight and the University of Auckland in Australasia, to identify and develop great ideas into world-changing businesses. IP Group has committed to invest a minimum of A$200M in projects from Australasian university partners. Mike has a wealth of experience in building early-stage technology companies, having previously worked with IP Group in the UK, with Brandon Capital in Australia, in strategy roles with McKinsey and Company and Cricket Australia, and at the Centre for Vision in the Developing World. Mike has a DPhil and MSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Oxford, and undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Science from the University of Melbourne.
Executive Director, Sandro Demaio Foundation
Natalie Molino from the Sandro Demaio Foundation is an entrepreneur, public health strategist and advocate for social impact. Natalie believes we can create a more inclusive, sustainable and healthier future through food. Natalie has worked with the likes of National Geographic, UberEats, and the World Health Organisation to partner on disruptive and innovative food systems reform. Natalie was previously the Policy Projects Coordinator at the EAT Foundation – a Norwegian start-up dedicated to sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships. She holds a Masters of Public Health and a Bachelor of Biomedicine from the University of Melbourne.
Co-founder, Tenacious Ventures and Partner, AgThentic
Matthew Pryor is Co-founder of Tenacious Ventures and a Partner at AgThentic. He was previously Co-founder of Observant, an Australian agtech pioneer acquired by Jain Irrigation in February 2017. He was the founding chair of Rocket Seeder, a food and agriculture innovation accelerator, and of the Australian Government Agriculture 4.0 Task Force. He is passionate about promoting Australian agri-food innovation globally.
Chair, Movember Foundation
Nicholas Reece is Principal Fellow with the Melbourne School of Government, and Director of Strategy, Enterprise and Projects in Chancellery at the University of Melbourne. Nick has considerable experience in policy making and politics in government having worked for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Victorian Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby. Key roles during this period include Deputy Chief of Staff, Head of Policy, and Director of Strategy. He has also served as Secretary and Campaign Director of the ALP in Victoria.
Nick currently serves as a Councillor for the City of Melbourne where he is the Chair of the Planning portfolio and Deputy Chair of Major Projects. Nick is a host and commentator on Sky News and is also a regular columnist with The Age, The Guardian and Herald Sun.
Nick is an original Mo Bro and director of the global men’s health movement Movember which has raised over $1 billion for prostate cancer and men’s suicide prevention. For over a decade Nick served as a director of the street newspaper The Big Issue, Australia’s most successful social enterprise.
Kerri Lee Sinclair
Kerri Lee Sinclair has over 20 years’ experience working across the high-growth technology ecosystem, from co-founding her own startup (Microsoft acquired in 2007) to working in senior strategy/corporate development roles in some of Australia’s leading technology businesses, including Looksmart, Intelematics and Aconex. Kerri recently joined a large single family office, leading the direct investment of private capital into select global high-growth technology companies. She sits on the Australian State of Victoria’s Innovation Expert Panel, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Kerri is also the Chair of SBE Australia, a non-for-profit that runs venture capital programs like the Springboard Enterprises Program.
Managing Director, Slattery Australia
In October 2017, Sarah Slattery was appointed as Managing Director; the first female managing director of any quantity surveying firm in Australia. Slattery Australia is a contemporary, diverse work-force of over 90 staff, with a progressive growth strategy to service a dynamic national property and construction industry.
Managing Director, GBS Venture Partners
Brigitte Smith has twenty years’ experience in venture capital, business strategy and startup company operations. Brigitte has been investing and managing investments for GBS’s $450m of life science specialised venture capital funds since 1998. Brigitte is on the board of GBS portfolio companies AirXpanders, Endoluminal Sciences, Neuromonics, Proacta, and Vivive. Brigitte was the founding investor and chair of Pharmaxis. Prior to founding GBS Brigitte worked in the US and Australia in operating roles with early stage technology based companies, and at Bain & Company as a strategic management consultant.
Founder, Envato & Hey Tiger & Milkshake App
Cyan Ta’eed, is an Australian entrepreneur, designer and avid chocolate-loving, experience-making creator. Cyan Co-founded Envato in 2006, a fiercely values-driven Australian tech giant with a mission to help creatives earn a living online. In 2017, Cyan founded Hey Tiger, a speciality chocolate company based in Melbourne. Each chocolate bar is handmade from quality and ethically sourced ingredients combining surprising and delicious flavours. A passionate social enterprise, Hey Tiger benefits cocoa farming communities in West Africa, where 60% of the world’s cocoa is grown. More recently, Cyan has Founded a creative and digital startup Milkshake, an app that allows you to create an Insta website for your Instagram profile on your phone. Cyan is passionate about businesses making an impact beyond the bottom line.
Dr Leonie Walsh is an experienced leader and adviser in technological innovation with a background that spans more than 25 years of experience in the areas of technology development and commercialisation both locally and internationally across a diverse range of industries and applications. Leonie’s focus is on strategic science and technology issues including innovation efficiency, technology commercialisation, the future skilled workforce and women in science through a range of related boards, advisory and advocacy activities.
Leonie Walsh has received a BSc and an MSc from Swinburne University, an MBA (Exec) from the Australian Graduate School of Management and is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2014 Leonie received an Honorary Doctorate (HonDUniv) from Swinburne University of Technology for contributions and leadership in scientific enterprises, innovation and the community.
Investment Manager, Impact Investment Group
Rachel Yang is the Investment Manager at Giant Leap, a venture capital fund backing founders using business to drive positive social and environmental change across three themes: health and wellbeing, sustainable living and empowering people. The fund is backed by the Impact Investment Group, a leading Australian funds manager whose mission is to shift capital towards impact investments.
Rachel’s background is in management consulting and corporate finance and she is also on the Board of Startup Victoria, a not-for-profit organisation that exists to create more founders and better founders.
Partner, Main Sequence Ventures
Mike Zimmerman is a Partner with Main Sequence Ventures, a new venture capital firm backed by the Federal Government, CSIRO, and other investors to support deeptech companies commercialising world-leading research. With over 20 years of startup and investing experience in both Australia and the US, Mike has worked with companies as an advisor, director, and investor, and has also been a founder or executive in a number of venture-backed companies, including BuildingIQ and Propeller Aero. A committed supporter of the Australian startup ecosystem, Mike works with the Queensland State Co-Investment Fund, CSIRO’s ON Accelerator, Telstra’s Muru-D, Sydney University’s INCUBATE, and H2 Ventures Accelerators. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and an MBA from Stanford University.