The innovation awards turbo-charging Victoria's digital economy

Australia’s longest-running digital innovation awards are the perfect opportunity to raise your profile, create connections and increase your exposure.  

Do you work in the digital industry? Then the Victorian Government sponsored Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) awards – or iAwards – could do wonders for your career.

For more than 25 years, the Melbourne-based awards have been celebrating Australia’s top digital tech talent. In the last few years, big-hitters like Atlassian, Wotif, Google Maps and Wise Tech Global have all been nurtured through the awards, having their profiles raised and exposure to new audiences increased.  

To be in the running you need to enter: regular entries close on 6 March and student entries (free) close ten days later, 16 March.

AIIA in Victoria  

Portrait shot of Ron GauciIn a major win for our state, AIIA’s headquarters recently relocated from Sydney to Melbourne. Their CEO is Ron Gauci, who himself originated from the ICT industry. Having held executive roles at multinationals such as Microsoft, Verizon, and IBM, Ron is a go-getter. He was previously CEO of Federation Square, Melbourne Storm rugby league club and Melbourne Polytechnic and his professional background is testament to the influence of ICT as the launch pad for evolving business. Indeed, according to Ron, it’s "a statement about how portable our skills are across a variety of industries when you understand the role technology can play in transforming businesses."

Industry timeline

Last year, the iAwards celebrated their 25th anniversary. Since those first awards, Victoria’s digital ecosystem has come a long way and Ron has seen some dramatic change in innovation. We’d just discovered email, he recalls, describing the digital landscape of the time. "PCs weren’t yet entrenched in our day-to-day business lives – let alone at home. We were in the early versions of Windows on the DOS platform. Mobile phones were still in the brick phase. We were learning how to use spreadsheets and Christmas presents were often a Melways to help us get around."  

Fast forward to today and digitisation is everywhere, touching our lives in almost every way. Whether we’re talking advances in medicine, engineering, the environment, business analytics, social media, portable devices, banking, manufacturing, GPS – the list goes on. "Victoria was the first state to enter the technology game when it set up Multimedia Victoria, which has since morphed into many innovation programs including LaunchVic," he explains. "By securing the iAwards and making Victoria its home for the next few years, it reinforces Victoria’s position at the epicentre of innovation technology."

The depth and breadth of Australian innovation exposed through the AIIA iAwards is remarkable, notes Ron, sharing some examples. "From teams improving vision for people with muscular degeneration, to businesses highlighting gender diversity, to those creating better outcomes for autistic students, advances in telecommunications, cyber security, agricultural productivity and data analytics to trusted public sector open data platforms."

Benefits to you

Peer review is another drawcard of the awards. Entrants are judged by C-suite executives (those with ‘chief’ in their job titles), entrepreneurs and capital raisers, commercialisation and productisation experts, academics and technology experts. To top it off, judges provide feedback at the end of a robust judging session.  

"State and national coverage of the awards delivers media attention for winners and merit recipients," he says. Those who are successful get an opportunity to participate in PitchFest. From there, national finalists pitch their innovation to an expert panel of judges, in front of an audience. Winners can then go on to represent Australia and compete internationally at the much larger Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) awards program. "No other technology awards program delivers this level of exposure and opportunity for innovators," points out Ron.  

Today, Australia’s information communications technology market is worth nearly $100 billion. Ron says Victoria has always had a significant, and growing share of that. More investment in R&D for our innovators through the iAwards and like programs, as well as an investment in our skills programs to create and fill jobs in the ICT industry will grow our State's share even further.  

Anyone creating digital innovations can submit an entry, including students, individuals or even a collaboration of organisations.

To enter, head to the iAwards website before 6 March 2019.