Digital Innovation Festival set to ignite Mallee minds

The themes of tech innovation in agriculture, supporting rural small businesses to compete in an economy disrupted by 24/7 online shopping, female entrepreneurship and developing young people and communities with the skills for the jobs of the future will feature heavily during the Digital Innovation Festival Mallee kicking off this Friday 23 August in Swan Hill.

The festival is being run by Swan Hill-based social enterprise Mallee Rising in partnership with the Victorian Government. It will provide Mallee communities with access to 13 events over 12 days in Swan Hill, the majority of which are free.

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Addressing headwinds in retail, developing female entrepreneurs

The impact of online shopping on rural small businesses, being felt particularly hard in the retail sector, will be addressed with two events featuring successful local businesswoman Paige Davies.

Paige started her Frankie & Co Clothing business from her garage in 2014 and within 5 years developed it into a successful online retail business, opened two shops in Bendigo and Swan Hill and picked up a Bendigo Business of the Year award.

Opening the festival on Friday 23 August with a keynote address “My journey”, Paige will share details of her journey, successes and failures and the daily challenge of juggling the demands of a growing business with the responsibilities of having a young family. She will back it up the following morning with an Instagram workshop on Saturday 24 August sharing tips and tricks with local businesses from her time building Frankie & Co’s Instagram presence to over 150,000 followers.

An official YouTube workshop for female creators will also be delivered on Thursday 29 August by Changer Studios in partnership with YouTube. This free event – funded by the Victorian Government and Film Victoria – will share best practices, an understanding of online video and what creators and businesses can do to reach a global audience.

Connecting innovators in AgTech with regional farmers and councils

Three AgTech founders will visit the region to showcase their innovations to regional farmers and councils on Friday 30 August. Hosted by SuniTAFE Swan Hill campus it will include:

A fully autonomous, artificial intelligence-powered farm robot “weeder” prototype currently in farm trials in the Swan Hill region. Developed by Cameron Leeson, founder of Australian company thingc Robotics, it will aim to provide an on-demand workforce of robots to address a key challenge facing farmers - access to skilled workers – and be flexible enough to accommodate a range of tools/accessories to perform a range of farming functions.

Feral animal and conservation control technology capable of recognising, sorting and categorising species of animals using ‘computer vision’, differentiating feral from native animals and sending an alert when an animal is trapped. Developed by Supriya and Jay Nair at OutofBox Solutions, ‘Alfie’ is powered by internet of things and artificial intelligence and is envisaged to assist farmers as well as councils in the control of pests and conservation of endangered animals.

Wine fraud technology to protect wineries and exporters. With copycats, fake wine brands and substituted wine estimated to be as high as 70% in China’s imported wine category, Wes Ward, CEO of Trusted Food Group will present their innovation to protect the integrity of Australia's luxury wine products and provide 100% certainty to imported wine buyers that they get exactly what they pay for 100% of the time.


STEM: Developing youth with the skills for the jobs of the future

A solar boat challenge will be run on Sunday 1 September to engage young people in science and technology and shine a light on the region’s pedigree in solar renewable energy projects.

Science teacher Bruce Stevens has been teaching grade 6 students at Swan Hill Primary School to build and race solar-powered boats for the past 15 years. For the first time this engaging, hands on activity will be opened up to all school-age people across the region.

Festival host Mallee Rising will also launch ‘Code the Mallee’, the Swan Hill region’s first extra-curricular code club held outside of schools and open to the wider public and all ages. This is part of the social enterprise’s strategy to develop the region with the skills for the jobs of the future and ensure all of our community is part of the region’s economic growth while planting the seeds for the next generation.

Other events include:

  • How to turn an idea into a business / 28 August – How to take something from a great idea to a successful operation – what you need to know to build success.

  • China: Insights & Opportunities / 30 August – Visiting and local entrepreneurs will share their experiences of doing business and building/sourcing products in China.

  • Staying safe in a digital world / 3 September - will take participants through the steps to take to keep them and their devices safe in a digital world.

  • Tech Tuesdays – a free drop in, tech help and advice service, 1-3pm every Tuesday.

All event details and tickets available at

For more information contact:

Paul Dillon
Founder & CEO, Mallee Rising

Quote attributable to Paul Dillon, CEO, Mallee Rising

“The digital economy presents immense opportunities for regional and rural entrepreneurs, businesses, young people and the communities they live in. It allows businesses to reach new customers in new markets and will increasingly enable city-based professionals to relocate to regional Australia for a change of lifestyle without sacrificing career opportunities. This will contribute to vibrant regional communities and make them more attractive for young people to grow up in and return to.”

About Mallee Rising

Our vision is to be a regional innovation hub and launchpad for home grown entrepreneurs, incubating new and innovative businesses and promoting entrepreneurial thinking and lifelong learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM).

As a social enterprise our aim is to have a positive social and economic impact in our region and we want to ensure all of our community is part of the region’s economic growth while planting the seeds for the next generation.

Our profit facilitates our social impact, including a co-working space in Swan Hill.

About the Digital Innovation Festival

The Digital Innovation Festival (DIF), is a unique initiative to develop, demonstrate and promote technology innovation across every sector of the economy and society. DIF2019 runs over two weeks from 23 August to 6 September. Join in and celebrate the 'Victorian Difference' that drives industry, entrepreneurs and community to not only be different but make a difference through digital technology.

What is the DIF about?

The Digital Innovation Festival (DIF) seeks to engage and inspire all elements of the innovation ecosystem. Navigating the key issues, the Festival's three themes allow people to create their own DIF experience. From emerging technologies powering investment to tomorrows jobs building digital skills and digital change makers driving inclusion.

  1. Emerging technology

  2. Future Jobs

  3. Digital Inclusion

More information about the DIF:

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