Inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush

  • Develop an Innovation in the Bush workshop to strengthen engagement with remote Territorians
  • Showcase and celebrate the ingenuity of remote Territorians


The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade has successfully supported a range of initiatives to inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush.


Innovator in Residence (Aboriginal Business Innovation)

Funding was provided to Charles Darwin University (CDU) to achieve the following outcome:

Provide Aboriginal Northern Territory (NT) businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs with access to an expert (specifically, Professor Ruth Wallace) to undertake the provision of expert advice on behalf of CDU for Aboriginal businesses undertaking innovation.

Outcomes identified:

  • Identify opportunities for collaboration between the private and public sectors with a specific focus on Aboriginal business enhancement.
  • Increase the survival rate and profitability of small and medium NT Aboriginal businesses.
  • Help commercialise research and development opportunities for Aboriginal businesses, to contribute to the economic growth of the NT.
  • Achieve a number (agreed by the Territory) of business engagements held and a breakdown of regional locations and industry sectors.

Additionally, Professor Ruth Wallace was able to contribute to the following activities due to funding provided by the department.

  • Joint activity in 2020 with Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Dr Carla Eisenberg, on Aboriginal STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects for students in remote areas.
  • Hosting STEM activities with Children’s University
  • Business development support to North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) via Ricky Archer, CEO.
  • Other projects such as RAMP, led by NAILSMA.
Support for Aboriginal Business Innovation

Funding was provided to Charles Darwin University (CDU) to achieve the following outcomes:

  • support Aboriginal business innovation projects to be conducted in the Northern Territory (NT)
  • economic outcomes including jobs creation and investment attraction for the Territory
  • inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush.

This funding was additionally used to support the work of the Indigenous Innovation Alliance, who are led by an Indigenous Steering Committee and involves the CSIRO, University of Queensland Business School, and CDU. Together they co-designed an innovation program that enabled Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge and science to support sustainable development on Aboriginal estates.

CDU provided funding to Aboriginal Business Innovation projects identified through the Aboriginal Innovation Alliance process. The funding was focused on achieving the following outcomes:

  • strengthen the focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) for the NT’s children and youth
  • inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush
  • facilitate the establishment of programs to support Aboriginal Territorians to innovate
  • supporting Aboriginal businesses to be ready to apply for Business Innovation Program.

CDU’s Innovators in Residence (Aboriginal STEM) were appointed in October 2019. Julie-ann Lambourne and Murray Saylor, of Tagai Management Consultants, provided expert advice to NT Aboriginal businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs undertaking innovation. Through the partnership, the following Aboriginal Business Innovation Projects / businesses were supported.

Yalu Marnggithinyaraw Indigenous Corporation, Galiwinku - Elcho Island (Yalu)

Yalu is an Aboriginal corporation delivering programs, research and community education to strengthen health and well-being from a foundation of cultural integrity. 

Gong Wanhurr Indigenous Corporation (GWIC)

GWIC is a community-driven organisation emerging from North-East Arnhem Land. GWIC support the development and product of Yolŋu-led, multi-disciplinary performing arts and mixed-media projects. The objectives of GWIC is to deliver, through a ‘Learning on Country’ approach, sustainable programs developed through strategic relationships, delivered in remote homeland communities, that offer training, business and employment opportunities and outcomes.


  • Wuna’s vision was to greatly enhance inter-generational social impact and to lead innovative Indigenous Human Service Standards and solutions with a national quality assurance framework. Preliminary meetings with the chief executive officer of WUNA were held with CDU and as the result of the meetings the opportunity arose for the department to assist WUNA to apply for Business Innovation Program for their innovative technology Holdaccess.
  • Holdaccess is a digital platform built to maximize untapped value from workforce supply chains, so employers and employees work in sync to get results every-time. They define their point of difference through unlocking human inclusion in an often over supplied and highly competitive workforce supplier market place, targeting remote and offsite workforce contractor companies.

Additionally, Professor Ruth Wallace was able to contribute to the following activities due to funding provided by the department:

  • Joint activity in 2020 with Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), Dr Carla Eisenberg, on Aboriginal STEM projects for students in remote areas.
  • Hosting STEM activities with Children’s University.
  • Business development support to North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) via Ricky Archer, Chief Executive Officer.
  • Other projects such as RAMP, led by NAILSMA.
Business Innovation Program, Innovators in Residence

Remote Territorians are supported by Innovators in Residence (IiR) Dr Dan Tyson, Chief Executive Officer of the Desert Knowledge Precinct together with his Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) IiR colleague Jamie Toyne. The IiR is a wrap-around service under the existing Business Innovation Program and provides remote Territorian Innovators with professional advice on developing and commercialising business innovation.


Desert Knowledge Australia using funding provided by the department has launched a DKAccelerator to support the development and growth of First Nations enterprises in Central Australia. The program will:

  • support a cohort of Aboriginal entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of their business through hands-on operational support, responsive mentorship, project-based learning, peer-to-peer leadership, and digital technology innovation
  • be delivered over six months between May and November 2021, where entrepreneurs will progress through four stages of development:
    • discovery and planning,
    • foundation and scalability,
    • growth and acceleration, and
    • automation and future planning
  • have entrepreneurs working alongside the program director / business coach, a digital growth partner, and specialist consultants to achieve sustainable and scalable growth through digital technology innovation.

“There are plenty of grants, business plans and consultants that people can access, but not enough intensive, on-the-ground, operational support. Our job is to roll up our sleeves, work together and learn from each other.”
- Jamie Toyne (Program Director / Business Coach, DKAccelerator)

The five businesses selected for the DKAccelerator include:

  • Spinifex Skateboards: an Eastern Arrernte skate brand and youth program
  • Kere to Country: a disruptive social enterprise addressing food security
  • Standley Chasm: a leading Arrernte culture tourism enterprise
  • Framed in Alice: custom picture framers of local art and memorabilia
  • Stick Mob Studio: a graphic novel group creating stories inspired by lived experiences.

News items:

Inspired NT

Business Innovation has supported Inspired NT to deliver engagement activities in regional and remote Northern Territory which build an awareness and appreciation of innovation and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), to enhance the focus on building capability and skills and strengthen innovation in the bush. Recent activities include:

  • Ripple Effect at the Seabreeze Festival: The Ripple Effect is a space within the Seabreeze festival which invited community members to share their knowledge through workshops and talks. Approximately 450 people engaged with the space across 15 talks for the day. 
  • Library Open Day: Included the introduction for the STEAM Zone kits for students. A STEAM Zone kit includes tools, information and activities that fit within a theme. Over 1,400 people came through the doors and all of the kits were borrowed by the end of the day with a waitlist.
  • Barunga Festival: By participating in the Aboriginal arts culture and sport festival Inspiring Australia specifically targeted inspiring and strengthening STEM engagement in remote communities, as well as enabling greater Aboriginal participation in STEM. Over 3,000 visitors attended the festival across three day.
  • Science and Engineering Challenge NT: Run by the University of Newcastle and facilitated by Inspiring Australia, the challenge had 119 students from grades 8 to 10 participate in eight different engineering challenges across the day.
National Innovation Games

The National Innovation Games Northern Territory (NT) Series were structured to enable ‘inclusive innovation’ by bringing together a highly diverse group of people including skills, knowledge, experience and background to collaborate, using a design thinking methodology to deliver high impact outcomes for all participants.

In September 2021, the winners of the final NT series ‘Team Prana’ was a virtual team made up of students and remote Territorians from Calvary Community Care, Australian Regional and Remote Community Services Ltd, Palmerston Regional Hospital Community Care and Darwin Solar. They developed a solution to improve the health and community care standards in remote communities with 'Sun Healing Homes' a micro-DC system powered by flexible solar panels installed in each house, plus an information kit.

News items:

CDU partnership: female participation in STEM

As part of this national effort to improve gender equity and support career paths in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the department partnered with the Northern Institute (NI) to develop a program to increase female participation in STEM, specifically aimed at female youths. Charles Darwin University (CDU) provided current and future CDU female students with:

  • experience and participation in tailored, appropriate, effective STEM activities (eg, STEM camps, research projects, visiting STEM activities etc) to inspire interest in STEM
  • pathways for females to study STEM at CDU.

The program supported several projects and activities including:

  • Women in Science: A Dual Academy Project - a series of workshops to explore the potential of Aboriginal knowledge in higher education, in which both Western and Aboriginal knowledge systems are acknowledged equally. The project aims to promote women science and entrepreneurship in Northern Australia.
  • Engineering Education and Professional Learning and Teaching Pathways for Indigenous Women - this project aims to explore opportunities for learning and teaching experiences in engineering to Aboriginal women in remote, regional and urban communities.
  • Kakadu Plum Project - trainings are provided to young Aboriginal women across the harvesting, processing, storage, manufacturing and marketing of Kakadu plum products.
  • Joint STEM activity with Inspiring Australia - joint activity on Aboriginal STEM projects for students in remote areas.
  • Joint STEM activity with Children’s University - joint activity on STEM projects with Children’s University.

Read more: 

Digital Partnerships Program Funding

The Digital Partnerships Program is a department initiative to support the local information and communication technology (ICT) industry to build capacity and create jobs, foster partnerships between the Territory’s ICT sector and other local industries and encourage the development of innovative digital solutions to meet local challenges and support economic growth.

Warlpiri Media Aboriginal Corporation
IndigiVR showcases the Territory’s Aboriginal sites, heritage and landscapes to audiences around the world. Using cutting-edge digital technology, InDigiVR captures significant cultural places as fully immersive, photorealistic 360-degree experiences. Then, by wearing commercially-available 3D VR headsets, viewers can explore those sites as if we were there in person.

DICE Aust Pty Ltd
DICE Digital Access to Remote Renewable Energy Systems aims to develop a digital solution to improve monitoring, maintenance and sustainability of renewable energy installations for Northern Territory’s remote communities and businesses.

Next steps

Strengthening engagement through regional communities
Work has been done by a range of Big River stakeholders to join a working group to establish a Sci-Tech experience opportunity in the region, which could also services outlying areas. The concept is in early development stages, however existing programs and groups have been identified in the regions who would potentially participate. A distributed regional model could:

  • identify prospective engagement opportunities for innovation in the bush with existing partners in the region
  • design a possible mechanism to organise teenagers to engage with innovation in the bush.
Last updated on 21 April 2022