UniSC academics take centre stage at Forward Fest | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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UniSC academics take centre stage at Forward Fest

UniSC academics are joining innovators, business leaders, government officials and even a world champion mixed martial arts fighter at Silicon Coast’s ‘Forward Fest' which launched today.

Hosted at UniSC’s Innovation Centre the event aims to bring together 120 of the best-and-brightest minds in the country to share and exchange ideas throughout the week - promoting innovation and collaboration across a range of sectors. UniSC’s Dr Alexandra Campbell says it’s a golden opportunity for both academics and investors to understand how they can work together, and both reap the rewards.

“I’ll be on a panel discussing ways in which we have already commercialised our research and the benefits for universities and business in working together to solve problems with research,” said Dr Campbell.

“I think the audience will be surprised by the ways in which University research can help businesses achieve their goals and enjoy the insights of how universities work in the research commercialisation space.”

Dr Campbell’s work with UniSC’s Seaweed Research Group is a perfect case in point. In a separate talk, she’ll highlight how the group’s ground-breaking research has helped shift the perception of seaweed’s commercial opportunities beyond sushi rolls and fish food.

“We’re solving problems through innovations with seaweed. From addressing climate change and nutrient pollution to finding ways to enhance the health of Australians by including seaweeds into our diets, I’ll provide an overview of the diverse and innovative work presently underway at the UniSC Seaweed Research Group,” said Dr Campbell.

Products, investment and data can all be neatly measured and mapped. But what about a trickier metric like the social impact of research?

That’s exactly what representatives from UniSC’s Thompson Institute will try to unpack in a panel discussion with impact measurement and reporting specialists Rooy. The two groups recently collaborated on a project to tell the story of the Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which is a community collaboration hosted by the Thompson Institute to reduce local suicides.

“Social impact measurement is seen as being notoriously difficult, especially when wanting to demonstrate economic impact and behaviour change for community good,” said Engagement Officer at the Thompson Institute Louise Pemble, who’ll be facilitating the panel discussion.

“We are hoping that our discussion will show others the importance of including community through authentic engagement that results in real improvements in a region, as we are doing by training 2000 people in how to recognise the signs and support someone who may be thinking of suicide. We also hope that others realise that expert social impact measurement is available to any organisation, giving them tools to demonstrate value to funders and investors, attract clients and make better decisions about their business or not-for-profit organisation.”

They’ll be sharing the stage over the course of the week with innovators in everything from robotics, to agriculture, to the art of beating people up (as UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will attest to) and everything in between.

Scheduling and ticketing information is available here.

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