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A look into the INCITE of the future with neuroscientist, educator and WAITTA Patron, Professor Lyn Beazley

Few names are as well known in the world of West Australian science as Professor Lyn Beazley.

She’s been inducted into the WA Science Hall of Fame and the WA Women’s Hall of Fame, received Honorary Doctorates from Edith Cowan, Monash, Murdoch and the Australian National University, named the WA Australian of the Year in 2015 and awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to medical science.

Lyn is renowned for promoting science and technology in the media and played a key role in bringing the internationally successful FameLab science communication competition to Australia. As such she has been elected as a Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering.

Adding WAITTA Patron to her impressive list of titles, we are incredibly lucky to have Lyn in our ranks. We sat down for a fascinating look into the future of WA tech – from AgriTech developments that could help us secure a more sustainable future to finding the next generation of INCITE stars with the Game Changer Awards.

Q: First things first… What does being WAITTA Patron mean to you?

Above all, it is a terrific honour that I treasure. WAITTA is so well respected in Western Australia and beyond and plays a key role in promoting and encouraging the ITC industry here. Being part of the prestigious team that comprises it is wonderful.

Promoting WAITTA, especially its INCITE and Game Changer Awards programs, across the networks I engage in that span industry, government, academia and the community is a role I place a great deal of importance on – and one I perform gladly.

I truly hope the support, encouragement, and sometimes guidance, I offer as WAITTA Patron only adds more value to this wonderful industry. Being asked to join discussions around the future of tech and what we can do to keep ourselves ‘on the ball’ are conversations I always look forward to in particular!

Q: How important do you think innovation and technology – and celebrating them through events like the INCITE Awards, WAITTA’s flagship program – are to WA, and the broader Australian economy?

Very important. Our lives now and in the future rely so heavily on IT that it is impossible to imagine a world without it. It needs a highly skilled and strongly motivated workforce and an educational system now to address our future needs. The future prosperity and wellbeing of our state, our nation and our world will be underpinned by a thriving and innovative IT industry and a community tuned to its potential.

WAITTA’s INCITE Awards are the premier means to recognise and celebrate such potential in Western Australia. Not only do they encourage more people into the industry via recognition of our educational programs, they promote networking and collaboration across the many aspects of the industry and recognise achievement.

Just being a part of the INCITE Awards is an achievement in itself. Being a finalist, let alone a winner, gives a terrific boost to organisations not only to their morale but to the public validation of their value – helping them to grow and broaden their reach.

Q: At the centre of the INCITE Awards is our mission to discover incredible WA talent, set them on their journey, and inspire the next generation of innovators. A mission you no doubt share as Ambassador of WAITTA’s Game Changer Awards – an opportunity for children in Years 3-10 to showcase their innovative solutions to world challenges using project based learning, STEM skills, organisation, teamwork and presentation skills. What do you think programs like the Game Changer Awards can tell us about WA’s (and the INCITE Awards’) future?

I love this program. We have so many amazing young people who can secure a great future for us but many lack the know-how, resources or opportunity to develop and showcase their talents. Game Changer provides that opportunity.

By working with schools, the age-appropriate program has the potential to be life changing for the young people that take part but it’s also a boost to their teachers, who are able to design activities around the program and reinforce their self-belief in the key role teachers play in our society.

The program allows young people who may feel they are not part of mainstream educational activities to be assured of their value. Meeting others ‘on their wavelength’ gives them the confidence to pursue their learning and to achieve. It also alerts parents to the sometimes hidden talents of their children and gives them an extra incentive to support their kids in their endeavours.

Working on the ground with the Game Changer program to encourage and inspire our next generation of innovators face-to-face is something that I treasure. I never fail to be impressed (and sometimes astounded) by their achievements. And I learn heaps!

Q: Last year saw some incredible solutions to some incredibly big problems – like the covid-19 pandemic for one – brought to the stage. The MedTech cohort were out in force! What would you like to see showcased this year?

That’s a big question. Yes, MedTech was rightly to the fore and will stay that way. I would suggest the next area to be showcased could be Agri-Tech (terrestrial and marine).

From predicting weather patterns and climate changes for crop production, horticulture and viticulture, to conditions in our oceans for sustainable fishing and aquaculture, to breeding programs for both plants and animals, to ensuring biosecurity and addressing transport challenges, to producing ‘green, clean, high quality’ food and influencing healthier eating habits, and finally, to providing fibres such as wool and cotton more sustainably and of course, energy (be it biofuels, solar, wind, wave, hydro or geothermal).

Doing all this with the lightest footprint on the environment while looking to the mental health of primary producers will require keeping those in the chain up to speed on the latest IT technology, and a good dose of innovation and collaboration. The list (and the work) goes on.

Q: Finally, what would you say to those thinking about entering or nominating someone for an INCITE Award?

Go for it: it is well worth it. Just by writing the application you may see yourself in a way you probably haven’t before. You will learn throughout the process but more than that, you will inspire and invigorate your team, network with great people and promote your enterprise not just here but around the world.

History shows a WAITTA INCITE Award often leads to much better things. Because we know, from having to go online, the world watches WAITTA.


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