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Diversity and Innovation Techfest 2023

Yesterday, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education Executive Director Professor Shamit Saggar took part in the Diversity and Innovation Tech Fest 2023 at Perth Town Hall.

Speaking on “Diversity in Innovation: Nurturing an Inclusive Ecosystem” along with fellow panellists Associate Professor Parwinder Kaur, Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC, Danelle Cross, Kay Solanki, and US Consul General Siriana Nair, Shamit shared the unique history of the Saggar line that linked India, East Africa, and England, and eventually led him to Perth. He emphasised the diversity of panellists, and NCSEHE’s role to ensure reform across all 39 Australian universities held inclusivity front of mind.

Hon. Stephen Dawson highlighted the extraordinary innovation in Western Australia, emphasising the importance of its cultural melting pot as the driver behind its potential for success.

Shamit expressed optimism but raised concerns about sluggish mindsets in those at the top, calling for a change in attitude and top-down as well as bottom-up shakeups to the status quo.

Siriana Nair from the US Consulate Perth emphasised the importance of policies to promote inclusivity and diversity, while Curtin University’s Danelle Cross discussed innovation strategies, focusing on regional, Indigenous, and other perspectives.

StartupWA’s Kay Solanki highlighted diversity as a mindset, extending beyond gender, while JTSI’s Parwinder Kaur addressed barriers preventing students from pursuing higher education.

The panel discussed the “Innovation Alliance” formed by US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in October, stressing the need for diverse voices in such initiatives.

Hon. Stephen Dawson outlined government efforts, including the New Industries Fund, aiming to support regional, Aboriginal, and female founders. He emphasised technology’s role in creating equal opportunities and expressed a vision for nationwide access to technology.


Panellists action items:

  • Dawson: Listen and consider feedback
  • Danelle: Cultivate an inclusive culture for budding entrepreneurs
  • Kay: Avoid duplication
  • Siriana: Be open to new ideas and people
  • Shamit: Don’t drop the ball.


Panellists motivations to overcome challenges:

  • Shamit: Drive, encouragement, and opportunity
  • Siriana: Optimism as a force multiplier
  • Kay: Changing others’ days
  • Danelle: Listen, recommend, and connect
  • Dawson: Don’t take no for an answer.

Posted 5 December 2023 Posted in General, Indigenous, Regional, rural and remote