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Western Sydney’s Largest Innovation Forum CatalystWest 2022 — Where to from here?

On 22-24 Nov, Western Sydney University’s Launch Pad and Centre for Western Sydney delivered Western Sydney’s ‘largest ideas forum’, CatalystWest, coming back with a blast from COVID-19 with a new expanded format that included three packed days of interactive sessions, panels, expert speakers, pitches, slam poetry and short films delivered across three Western campuses including Westmead Innovation Quarter (iQ), Parramatta Engineering Innovation Hub and our Parramatta City 1PSQ building. 

This expanded format of CatalystWest proved a great success bringing together our researchers, staff and students with industry, government, high school students and community groups to better understand Western Sydney’s range of challenges and opportunities across areas such as health and well-being, startup and innovation, transport, creative arts, economic development, resilience, sustainability and many more. 

‘Over the three days we have collected a wealth of data, information, opinions and insights that will help us to ideate new solutions to problems and advocate to government for improved policy making that affects Western Sydney’s businesses, communities and environment,’ said Executive Director, Enterprise, Co-Founder of Western Sydney University’s Technology Business Incubator Launch Pad Don Wright. 

‘It was great to see our region’s leading innovation forum back even bigger and better, over three days and three incredible Western Sydney University campuses, with Don Wright and friends at Launch Pad,’ Director of the Centre for Western Sydney Professor Andy Marks added.

‘Our amazing audience and speakers forged new directions in #health, #entrepreneurship, #planning, the #arts and #community. They did it all, together, with the passion and originality that defines our region.’ 

The conversation doesn’t end after day three. CatWest isn’t just a talkfest. It is about pushing new ideas out there and capturing views from the thought leaders of Western Sydney.

Day 1 – Driving Western Sydney’s health innovation opportunity @ Westmead Innovation Quarter (iQ)

Delivered at Western Sydney University’s new Innovation Quarter within the Westmead precinct, day one of CatalystWest explored how we could enhance Western Sydney’s health ecosystem with a focus on innovation to increase regional health and wellbeing in alignment with WSU Western Health and STEM decadal plans. It intended to educate and inspire the audience, highlighting how innovation in health can find solutions to challenging problems and transform healthcare going forward. 

This was also an opportunity to showcase Westmead Innovation Quarter and explore the potential of collaboration across the Westmead precinct more broadly. With a line-up of entertaining expert speakers and panelists, this high-profile event unpacked areas such as digital health, health-tech commercialisation and combatting chronic disease.

The talented scribes from our sponsors at KPMG also documenting the ideas and insights that came out of each inspiring session (see below).

Day 2 – Growing tech entrepreneurship & the startup economy in Western Sydney @ Parramatta Engineering Innovation Hub

With a once in a generation level of infrastructure investment, a large and high-tech industry base, a network of innovation precincts and the nation’s most culturally diverse communities, Western Sydney is a great place to start and grow a company. 

Day two explored how we could support the growth of a new culture of tech entrepreneurship and support for a vibrant tech startup economy across the region, with a key focus on Western Sydney’s Innovation ecosystem and the role of universities therein, as well as how we can grow the investment landscape. The audience also had the opportunity to hear from founders or key members of startup success stories from the region.

Day 3 – Western Sydney: Where to from here? @ Peter Shergold Building, 1PSQ

Western Sydney could hold the answers to some of the nation’s most urgent challenges including climate resilience, physical and digital connectivity and rising costs of living. Day three’s agenda brought together speakers and thinkers from a range of sectors and walks of life to ponder how we can bounce forward as the region recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.

CatalystWest catered to the international audience using the metaverse

Building on the success and popularity of previous CatalystWest events, the format for CatalystWest 2023 was modified and delivered in hybrid mode on a METAVERSE PLATFORM – Western Sydney University virtual campus on Virbela put together tirelessly by the Launch Pad team.

Over the three days we saw international and interstate engagement that allowed virtual attendees to join in on important conversations about the future of our region. Attendees were able to livestream the event in the virtual world while enjoying social and fun activities such as jet-skiing, dancing in the entertainment lounge or beach stage, experiencing relaxing views on the campus rooftop and jet-skiing with friends!

Virtual attendees were also able to immerse themselves in Launch Pad’s virtual co-working space and meet like-minded people. And perhaps most excitingly, we saw attendee engagement with over 40 startups in our ‘Virtual Innovation Exhibition’. The exhibition provided an amalgamation of industry and community providing the opportunity for virtual attendees to engage with the innovation occurring in the Western Sydney startup ecosystem!

We wish to express our sincere gratitude to our sponsors for supporting us to make this high-profile 3-day innovation festival happen.

Photos by Sally Tsoutas and Nataly Thomson.