6 mins read

National Innovation Games - 2020 in Review


This year hundreds of student Challengers, progressive businesses and thought-leading corporates committed to innovation and infinite learning in the National Innovation Games series. With physical events and in-person learning experiences coming to a grinding halt, we at Paddl embarked on our own learning journey to bring the series to the virtual world.

Using Zoom, Slack and Miro, Paddl hosted four virtual Challenges:

For all involved, these Challenges were an opportunity to drive community resilience at a most needed time and up-skill in the workplace tools of the future.

National Innovation Games goes virtual

Australia’s ‘innovation state’ was unified in the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health (CEIH) National Innovation Games for South Australia. This game-changing Challenge was the first in the series to be held for South Australia, the first to use the new virtual model created by Paddl, and the first to engage the entire health service ecosystem.

The Challenge addressed the use of technology to innovate better health services for all South Australians. Ideas generated were crucial to advancing health service delivery in the midst of the pandemic. This was a fantastic opportunity for emerging medical talent to connect with leading organisations in the field.

"Great way to help a health student get a snapshot of what it's like in industry. Health students don't get m(any) opportunities like this.--I mean it." Carmela Soltis, Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences (Honours), The University of Adelaide

Winning Team 7 Health_e_View developed an application to provide shift workers with a way to monitor and improve their health. The team identified that shift workers are at risk of poor physical and mental health, and have limited access to healthcare services.

By Numbers
  • A total of 185 people came together virtually to support 76 Challengers from 13 local and international educators.
  • 10 virtual teams ideated 10 solutions.
  • 34 Team Participants from 18 Organisations in South Australia's healthcare sector took part.

Watch the Challenge recap here ⬇️

Supporting bushfire affected communities

After a summer of bushfires, Regional Victorians came together in the EnergyAustralia National Innovation Games to support fire affected communities in the LaTrobe Valley. The inspiring tech concepts created will help small businesses to build resilience and support their communities during times of crisis.

Speaking on behalf of Neilson's Pharmacy, winning Team 9 Business Participant Kaye Neilson demonstrated the amazing impact that the National Innovation Games experience has on small businesses.

"It is the first time for the day that I am beyond words. I am so proud of all these young students who have such crazy busy lives and give it up. They took the time and headspace to open a door and walk into our door. It is the greatest privilege as owners that people actually want to do that." Kaye Neilson, Neilson's Pharmacy, Team 9 - Lighthouse Pharmacy

By Numbers
  • A total of 127 people came together virtually to support 75 Challengers from 16 local educators.
  • 10 virtual teams ideated 10 solutions.
  • 17 Team Participants from 12 Small Businesses across the LaTrobe Valley took part.

Building business resilience to natural disasters

The Minderoo Foundation National Innovation Games focused on supporting local Queensland businesses affected by bushfire, drought and/or flood. The region needed support in driving local tourism back to communities and in reinvigorating the small businesses involved.

Team 10 Phoeni-X from the Ashes took home first place for business Binna Burra Lodge. The AR development put the Lamington National Park business in good stead to welcome customers back for the one-year anniversary of the bushfires.

Local Yeppoon business Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary has since joined forces with 3 students from the Challenge to implement their team's digital solution. This will improve customer engagement after the Sanctuary was forced to evacuate all animals during the summer bushfires.

By Numbers
  • A total of 141 people came together virtually to support 71 Challengers from 26 local and international educators.
  • 10 virtual teams ideated 10 solutions.
  • 30 Team Participants from 10 local Queensland Businesses took part.

Accessibility to the arts in a remote world

With pandemic restrictions forcing the closure of live music venues, theatres, galleries and creative schools and practices, The Australia Council for the Arts National Innovation Games enabled a new form of collaboration to take place across Australia's arts and cultural sector. This brought together over 400 people in the first two-day Challenge of the series - the largest Paddl has hosted to date!

Creatives from around Australia worked on embedding technology to deliver more sustainable organisations, practices and communities. Ideation addressed accessibility, diversity and inclusion within the arts.

Winning Team 10, The Digits, focused on the problem, “How can we ensure the delivery of digital arts is more inclusive towards the deaf and hard of hearing community?” The team highlighted the lack of emotional connection available for people who are hard of hearing or deaf. Their solution relied on two very simple concepts supported by machine learning, to detect emotion from speech over time. The team drew inspiration from Team Participant and deaf Multidisciplinary Visual artist Chelle Destefano.


“At a time of radical physical distancing, a dystopian time, the National Innovation Games provides a timely reminder that it is empowering when we come together to tackle new Challenges with collaborative spirit.” Adrian Collette, AM CEO, Australia Council for the Arts

By Numbers
  • Over 400 people came together virtually to support 235 Challengers from 41 local and international educators.
  • 18 virtual teams ideated 18 solutions.
  • 145 local and international Artists, Practices and/or Communities took part.


Get involved!

Team Paddl is gearing up for an exciting year of National Innovation Games in 2021, with our first Challenge for the Northern Territory kicking off in March.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to gain new skills, expand your professional network and unlock opportunity.

Register for paddl.com now to stay updated on the next National Innovation Games.

Founded on the unique Paddl Games model, the National Innovation Games is co-funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources in partnership with the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia and Paddl Co. The series aims to bring together emerging talent and business to solve some of the greatest problems facing Australian industry, using STEM and design thinking skills.

Recommended for You