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If you’ve been following the INCITE Awards in recent years, it will be no surprise to you to hear that Perth has become something of a player in the savvy world of digital and tech.

From climate change and mental health to urban farming and the coronavirus, the diversity and genius of our entrants’ thinking and the challenges they tackle each year are worthy of any coming out of Sydney or Silicon Valley.

We sat down with Councillor Rebecca Gordon, who was representing the Lord Mayor and the City of Perth –  Platinum Sponsor of the 31st INCITE Awards 2022, to chat about Perth’s reputation as a centre for business and economic activity, its emerging startup and tech sector, and leveraging Perth’s unique position in the world.

Q: The INCITE Awards are WA’s biggest celebration of ICT innovation. What does innovation mean to the City of Perth?

A: Perth is an incredibly smart city and home of world-leading knowledge and innovation. Local innovation plays a huge role in our recently enacted ten-year Economic Development Strategy for 2022-2032, to ensure Perth continues to be home to globally recognised digital and technology infrastructure and startup ecosystems.

With so many great ideas coming out of our city, Perth’s reputation on the world stage is growing. Our plan is to encourage that growth by identifying and promoting existing clusters of innovation, connecting ecosystems and key stakeholders, partnering with industry and government to develop feasibility of a business, innovation and technology launch zone, development of a Tech Action Plan and promoting Perth’s success stories and emerging startup centres like the new Perth Prop Tech Hub and Bluesky.coLab, working with new State programs and the Startup sector to quantify startup activity and economic outcomes, and working with all stakeholders to attract investment for Perth startups and tech companies. And of course, the INCITE Awards are a big part of all that.

Q: That’s exciting to hear! So what role does innovation and technology – and the people behind them – play in Perth’s future? How important is it as a sector to the City?

A: Very important. We are in an era of fast-moving change that is disrupting all sectors. Only the economies that are at the forefront of innovation are going to be able to capture the opportunities that come with so much change.

Our aim is for Perth to be ‘a City for knowledge and innovation’, and we’re working with clusters of key assets and organisations that support that. We’ll work to continue to identify more of these clusters across academia, industry, and government, including identifying the infrastructure gaps and appropriate governance models we may need to address to enact greater coordination and unlock these opportunities.

We may be perceived as one of the ‘the most isolated cities in the world’ geographically speaking but in actuality, Perth is a city with incredible international connections and an entirely unique geography and position on the world stage. We want to leverage that.

Q: We’ve discovered some truly remarkable homegrown tech over the years – from life changing mental health app startups and AI allowing seniors to age in place to revolutionary community space sharing platforms. What are you looking forward to seeing showcased on this year’s INCITE stage?

A: I am not technologically gifted, so I am personally looking forward to seeing everything on show. I am in awe of the incredible finalists.  The talent and expertise that exists in Perth and across the state that we see showcased on the INCITE stage every year is incredible.

The City of Perth is thrilled to be a part of this year’s Awards program and to have a direct opportunity to support Western Australia’s thriving innovation and technology sector, and to promote it across the globe.

Q: The INCITE Awards program offers a direct pathway to the national iAwards, the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards, and beyond. 2022 marks the Awards 31st year, and we’ve celebrated more than 300 national winners already… and counting. WA is brimming with world-first tech, what does seeing WA talent recognised nationally (and globally) mean to Perth?

A: The INCITE Awards has truly created the perfect opportunity to shine the spotlight on technology developed in Western Australia.

The pathways and doors it opens for participants and winners has put Perth on the map for innovation and excellence, nationally and internationally, which is a big part of our Economic Development Strategy 2022-2032 – we’re so excited to see the talent this year’s program uncovers, and where the INCITE Awards and the City of Perth can take them.

Q: What would you say to those thinking about entering the INCITE Awards program in future years?

A: If you’re thinking about it, please go ahead and enter. It will provide you with the platform to be recognised not just in Perth, but globally – it’s a long running program with a proven track record of doing so.

It’s a program that not only recognises innovation developed in WA but encourages local collaboration, investment, and future employment opportunities – ensuring opportunities created in Perth, continue to be great for Perth.

With the backing of not only the INCITE Awards, your local tech ecosystem and supporting partners like us, there’s no telling where your innovation could take you.