Bridge8 visits the Brisbane Ideas Festival

Kate: Hi my name is Kate and I’ve just started blogging for Bridge8 from Brisbane. Last weekend I visited the 2009 Brisbane Ideas Festival. This biennial festival, is Queensland’s premiere open public ideas event.Held over 5 days at Brisbane’s South Bank, it aims to:

  • Provide Queenslanders with access to and exposure to diverse ideas;
  • Present, celebrate and debate the quality ideas and inventive work of government, business, academia and community; and to
  • Promote Queensland locally, nationally and internationally as innovative, diverse and forward thinking.

The diverse ideas cover five streams:

  • Invention and innovation
  • Development and design
  • Ecology and ethics
  • Action and advocacy
  • Self and society

This year international speakers included creativity educator Anna Craft (UK); John Howkins (UK), author of The Creative Ecologies; Bob Stein, co-Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book; Ghazi Sheikh Ramli, president of the Malaysian Association of Creativity; Geoffrey Robertson QC; robotics expert, Helen Greiner; Charles Landry, an international authority on building cities of the future; and Chris Jordan, photographer and environmental activist. Australian thinkers included broadcaster Phillip Adams; futurist Dr Sohail Iayatullah, Ziggy Switkowski; Professor Ian Lowe; Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson; and artists Vernon Ah Kee,Judy Watson and Richard Bell.

Fostering creative ideas and innovation seems especially important this year as we navigate responses to the environmental, social and personal challenges we face in uncertain economic times. I noticed three key ideas about drivers of creativity and innovation echoed by diverse speakers at the conference. These were the importance of:

  • Encouraging curiosity and openness
  • Linkages between diverse fields of thought; and
  • Seeking to serve rather than to create

Charles Laudry suggested in his ”Art of City Making in an Intercultural World’ that innovation requires an ability to step back and be curious. Gazi Sheikh Ramli also believes that creativity comes from simple curiosity. He described the Malaysian approach to ‘democratization of innovation’ where creativity NGOs work to empower simple ideas in rural villages rather than focussing on transferring knowledge about new technology.

Meeting of minds across diverse fields such as occurs at the Ideas Festival seems to be vital for fostering creativity and innovation. In city planning Charles Laudry spoke of the importance of centres for civic engagement and catalyst organizations with the simple agenda of bringing together the ‘institutional spaghetti’ of a city.

Representatives of the ABC’s collaborative media site ‘The Pool and Creative Commons Australia’ discussed the way modern technologies have changed definitions of creation and creator so that ‘We are what we share’. A desire to share ideas and serve others seems to be common among innovators. Charles Laudry observes that innovative cities are those that aim to ‘Be the best NOT IN the world BUT FOR the world’.

A number of speakers at the festival suggested that the Global Financial Crisis could be a catalyst for innovation. This is not just because scarcity breeds creativity but because they are detecting a mood for a real paradigm shift away from sole reliance on market forces. Futurist Dr Sohail Iayattullah hopes that governments will stimulate the economy through spending on infrastructure that improves environmental and social capital rather than simply financial capital.

With my new hat on as a Brige 8 blogger I was struck by how the philosophy of Bridge 8 recognizes the drivers of creativity and innovation discussed at the Ideas Festival. Bridge8 is interested in the interactions between people and technology and how these affect outcomes for organisations and society. It seeks to share information from diverse areas through this blog and recognises that a different viewpoint can free up creativity and aid innovation. By seeking to create vision and make connections between organisations and their communities it seems to me that in the world of science and technology Bridge8 could become one of those catalyst organisations that Charles Laudry spoke of as essential for bringing together institutional spaghetti in the world of science and technology.

You can view information and the program from this years Brisbane Ideas Festival at ( Radio National will be broadcasting sessions recorded at the festival on their FORA program with podcasts available on the RNWebsite. (


  1. Hi Kate,
    Great blog! I love your sentence “Bridge8 is interested in the interactions between people and technology” – succinct and true. Well said. Look forward to reading more of your blogs and meeting one day.
    Sarah (also a bridge8-er)

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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