Now in its ninth year, the all-day event championing Australian innovation took place at The Auditorium in Surry Hills, and saw presenters divided into one of six sessions: agriculture, enterprise solutions, connectivity, new energy, solutions for industry, and better health and education.

ON graduate Michael Withford pitched his company Modular Photonics within the ‘Connectivity’ session, and was questioned by a heavy hitting panel of industry leaders including CSIRO’s own Chief Executive Officer Larry Marshall.

ON Mentor Michelle Perugini pitching at Tech23.

In his pitch, Michael labelled the ON program as being “instrumental” to his success, and said later that his experience through the ON Accelerate program “crafted my whole narrative.”

As a result, Michael Withford picked up two awards receiving the ‘Austrade Going Global Award,’ an eight-day all-expenses paid international trip to visit landing pads in Berlin and Tel Aviv, and a mentoring session with Ian Buddery, the founder of eServ.

“It’s always great, a real shot in the arm to getting this sort of prize,” Michael said.

“I'm really pleased to be the recipient of the Austrade Going Global award … indeed, that's where our heads are at the moment, we are focused on going global,” he said.

Fellow ON Alumni Michael Rampe also picked up a prize for his company Pedestal - a lunch with Dror Ben Naim, CEO of Smart Sparrow - and ON mentor Michelle Perugini snagged two incredible awards winning Tech23’s ‘Greatest Potential Award’ and a lunch with Upguard in Mountain View, California including an all-expenses paid trip valued at $5000.

Women in Innovation

The night before Tech23, CSIRO's ON program in partnership with SlatteryIT co-hosted a ‘Women In Innovation’ cocktail night that sought to bring together female entrepreneurs across a range of sectors to recognise and support leading and emerging female leaders in sci-tech innovation.

The event saw roughly 50 women in attendance meet, network and chat about their experiences through academia, business and entrepreneurship within the classy confines of Bambini Trust Restaurant and Wine Room, overlooking Sydney’s resplendent Hyde Park.

Flavia Tata Nardini, Anastasia Volkova, Michelle Perugini and Jenny O'Neill at Women In Innovation

Cathy Foley, CSIRO’s Deputy Director and Science Director of Manufacturing spoke at the evening, along with Director of SlatteryIT, Rachel Slattery (who created both Tech23 and the Women in Innovation events), both of whom championed courage and connections.

Reflecting on both Tech23 and the Women in Innovation night, Rachel Slattery admitted that she was “very inspired”.

“I love the fact that you get entrepreneurs that have put their heart of soul into something, and they try to tell their stories,” Rachel said.

“A lot of the entrepreneurs are tackling things that can shape and make a better future,” she said.

By beginning Tech23 with the Women in Innovation night and ending Tech23 with an all-female panel featuring Nicky Ringland, Mandy Simpson and CSIRO’s own Lisa Harvey-Smith, who pondered the topic of whether the future was here or not, Rachel was pleased to notice the positive shift towards gender diversity.

“When we started Tech23, most of the people I thanked then were blokes, and that's changed, and it's really nice to see,” she said.

“So not only do I get to start Tech23 with this great support of females but we end Tech23 with those females talking about whether the future's here or not; it definitely is here!”

“It's moving fast, but part of the future is that women are becoming front and centre, as they should be,” she said.

To find out more about the ON program, check out Past Cohorts and to find out more about our accelerators visit ON programs.

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