Business Sydney | The University of Sydney

Innovation, commercialisation & productivity roundtable

Business Sydney Roundtable Lunch

Thursday, 2 December 2021

12:15 pm - 2:00 pm



Business Sydney



Sydney First Members Only

Sydney is a technology hub — more than 60% of Australian fintech’s choose Sydney as their base. They’re supported by world class infrastructure: Australia is ranked equal first in the world for technological readiness.

Innovation generates the products and services crucial for future jobs and industries. Research and development (R&D) undertaken in our universities, institutes and tech businesses is a major source of innovation and should be supported for the whole community to thrive.

The Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan recommends five Priority Actions and 16 Supporting Actions that will accelerate the rate at which ideas are translated into new industries, jobs, products and services.

We held a reception with business leaders to discover what collective actions our government, universities and industry need to take to proactively and collectively enable innovation, support R&D and accelerate its translation.

Business Sydney thanks the University of Sydney for being the event sponsor.

Event Partner

Special Guest

The Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Parliament of New South Wales

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Parliament of New South Wales

Gabrielle was re-elected for a third term as the Member for Vaucluse at the March 2019 NSW Election and on 2 April 2019 was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the NSW Premier. Gabrielle previously held the positions of Minister for the Environment, Local Government and Heritage, served as the first female NSW Attorney General, as Minister for Family and Community Services, as Minister for Sport and Recreation and as Parliamentary Secretary for Tertiary Education and Skills.

Gabrielle’s career began as a banking and finance lawyer with legal firms Freehill, Hollingdale & Page and Philips Fox, after being admitted as a Solicitor to the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia in 1988. She then worked as a banker with Deutsche Bank and Toronto Dominion Bank in New York financing the energy sector.

She served as a member of the Corporate Markets and Advisory Committee to the Federal Government and as Legal Counsel from 2000 to 2010 at the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Gabrielle held the position of Deputy Chancellor of the University of New South Wales from 2006 until 2009. From 2005 to 2011 she was Deputy Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards in Australia and a board member of Neuroscience Research Australia, NeuRA one of Australia’s largest research centres on the brain and nervous system, from 2007 to 2011.

Gabrielle has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales and a Masters of Business Administration (Finance & Management) from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Duncan Ivison


As Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at the University of Sydney, Professor Ivison is responsible for helping to develop and deliver the University’s research strategy, and support the pursuit of outstanding fundamental and applied research across the institution. 

Professor Ivison is a political philosopher with research and teaching interests in contemporary political theory, the history of political thought and moral philosophy. Prior to this role, he was Dean of the University of Sydney's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences from 2010. He has also held appointments at the University of Toronto and the University of York (UK). He was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow and Visiting Fellow in Ethics and Public Affairs at the Center for Human Values, Princeton University (2002-03), as well as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU (1993-96). He was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2009.

Dr John Best

Vice President, Chief Technical Officer, Thales Australia

Dr John Best is Vice President, Chief Technical Officer at Thales Australia. His responsibilities include technical strategy, research and development, innovation and engineering. Partnerships and collaboration are significant components of the Thales innovation system and within his portfolio of responsibilities.

John’s early career was spent at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, where he contributed to, and led, programs of work ranging across underwater weapon effects modelling, mine warfare operations research, virtual environments and combat systems.

John is President of the Australian Innovation Research Group and a director of DMTC Limited, a defence-oriented research consortium. He has previously been a director of Eurotorp Pty Limited and the Defence RPDE program.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with First Class Honours in Physics from the University of Queensland, a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Wollongong and an MBA from the University of Adelaide. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Sally-Ann Williams

Chief Executive Officer, Cicada Innovations

As the CEO of Cicada Innovations Sally-Ann leads Australia’s pioneering deep tech incubator building companies solving the world's most pressing problems through science & engineering. Cicada Innovations has nurtured hundreds of visionary deep tech innovators to validate, commercialise and scale high impact technologies globally across MedTech, HealthTech, AgTech, FoodTech, Clean Energy, AI, Manufacturing 4.0 and more.

Prior to joining Cicada Innovations she spent over 12 years at Google as an Executive Program Manager on the engineering team leading work on R&D collaborations with universities, startup and entrepreneurship engagement and pioneering work on CS & STEM education including building world first collaborations delivering national transformation.

Sally-Ann has been involved in driving national engagement and change strategies in innovation & entrepreneurship, Computer Science and STEM education as a member of the COAG STEM Partnership Forum and contributed to the foundation of StartupAUS, a non-profit with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship. She has led several cross sector working groups to drive change both in policy & cultural transformation needed to grow a thriving technology driven economy, and served on 4 University Industry Advisory Boards in the engineering and computer science departments.

Sally-Ann is an experienced Non Executive Board member currently serving on the boards Cicada Innovations, Biz Capital and AusOcean an environmental not-for-profit organisation with a mission to help our oceans through technology. She has also been a Non Executive Director of World Vision Australia, and Fishburners. She is an advisor to several state and national working groups on tech & innovation and is a mentor and advisor to several industry and university incubators & accelerators including Startmate.

Sally-Ann is a frequent keynote speaker on topics such as Deep Tech, technology transformation, innovation & entrepreneurship, inclusion, business development, commercialisation and transformation.

Event Gallery



Become a First member

Our forums are for members only. Click the button below to find out about becoming a Sydney First member.