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Media Release: The National Innovation Games to build disaster resilience in Queensland

Queensland small businesses and emerging talent will come together today as part of the National Innovation Games to develop digital solutions to better engage customers and communities, helping to improve their resilience in the face of disasters such as flood, bushfire and COVID-19.

The National Innovation Games is funded by the Australian Government and delivered by Paddl Co. – a startup developing new ways to better prepare business and talent for the future of work – through the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA). Today’s Games are co-sponsored by Minderoo Foundation and are the second to be held in Queensland, and the first in the state to use a new virtual model created by Paddl, enabling participants to join from across Queensland, wherever it suits them.

Through a series of facilitated design sprints, innovation teams will collaborate throughout the day to develop practical solutions to address the challenge topic set by Minderoo Foundation, ‘How might you use digital solutions to engage with your customers and your community’.

Small businesses will conclude the day with ideas for tangible actions to help prepare them for future disasters, such as bushfire, flood, drought and even pandemic.

Minderoo Foundation Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program (WDRP) lead Adrian Turner said the focus of the WDRP program was to drive a new collaborative model for global leadership in climate-induced disaster resilience.

“Communities and the small businesses within them are one of the key driving forces of innovation and change in building back stronger. Small businesses often have to rapidly adapt and respond to constantly shifting circumstances with local knowledge,” Mr Turner said. “It’s that community-led entrepreneurial spirit and ability to think outside the box that we want to capture and build on at today’s National Innovation Games.

“If Australian communities can further develop their disaster resilience not only will they have a stronger business, but the economy and society as a whole will be better off when future disasters inevitably strike.

“We want to identify the actions that can be applied systemically to help communities bounce back faster.”

Paddl Co. Chief Executive Officer, Dominique Fisher highlighted the value that can be created by bringing together people with diverse skill sets to address a common goal.

“The challenges and impact of the bushfires, combined with drought, floods, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in an unprecedented set of circumstances that have caused economic and social disruption, and for some, economic and social heartache,” Ms Fisher said.

“With the support of the Australian Government and Minderoo Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to bring the National Innovation Games to Queensland. “Each of the small businesses involved today have already demonstrated resilience in the face of various climate-induced disasters, a resilience that continues to be demonstrated as they now confront the impact of the pandemic. I have been deeply impressed, inspired and moved by each of their stories.

“Using digital solutions, they will be able to engage their customers and communities to not only recover and survive but to also get smarter in their businesses, diversifying revenue streams, developing new skills and introducing a collaboration mindset.

“The emerging talent joining with Minderoo Foundation and the small businesses today are hungry for both the opportunity to reach out to Queensland’s regional businesses and provide them with practical assistance, in addition to the opportunity to gain valuable experience to better position them for future employment.

“Faced with the prospect of a ‘COVID-19 resume gap’, the Games give emerging talent the opportunity to continue to hone their skills, network and demonstrate their personal resilience to future employers.

“Paddl believes that experience unlocks opportunity, and that belief, combined with our commitment to prepare talent for the future of work, led us to develop the Games methodology.”

COSBOA Chief Executive Officer, Peter Strong highlighted COSBOA’s commitment to building the resilience of Queensland’s regional businesses and communities.

“With the combination of the drought, bushfires, floods and the pandemic, small businesses – and larger businesses too – are experiencing unprecedented challenges that need people to think outside of the box to overcome, as well as take advantage of any opportunities that may come up,” Mr Strong said.

“The National Innovation Games give small businesses the opportunity to join a diverse and talented team dedicated to thinking of new ideas and solutions to help them build resilience and engage with their customers and communities.

“Some existing technology and systems have left small business ill-equipped to deal with large-scale disasters so we hope the Games will help to achieve systemic change.

“COSBOA is delighted to partner with Paddl, with the backing of the Australian Government and Minderoo Foundation, to support small business. We are excited to see the results from the day as well as the positive flow-on effects to the wider community. Well done Paddl for this unique innovation model.”

About the National Innovation Games

The Australian Government has provided funding to COSBOA to trial the National Innovation Games (the Games) across Australia, over the two-year trial period.

The National Innovation Games will bring together businesses and students to solve innovation, technology and/or digital challenges set by a co-sponsor, corresponding with the real-life problems faced by participating businesses. The connections built between participating businesses, students and the co-sponsor can broaden employment prospects for students and graduates.

The National Innovation Games are delivered by Paddl Co. and modelled on Paddl Games, which were first developed by Paddl Co. in 2017 in response to the critical need to prepare emerging talent for work and to promote collaboration between businesses and higher education institutions.

The National Innovation Games format

● The National Innovation Games bring together businesses with emerging talent to solve reallife, practical business issues.

● Each of the National Innovation Games includes approximately ten teams comprising business owners and employees, emerging talent and representatives from a corporate partner/sponsor(s).

● Each team is professionally facilitated and works on an innovation project aligned with a locally relevant challenge identified by the corporate partner/sponsor.

● Team members collaborate in three design sprints: problem framing & ideation; concept design & development; and storytelling & tuning.

● Challenge labs are staffed by the corporate partners/sponsors/PhD researchers to help team members access expert advice throughout the day.

● At the end of the day, each team presents their ideas and solutions to a judging panel in a competition to win prizes.

● Participants can book a 15-minute mentoring session with an experienced employee.

● The National Innovation Games provide a unique opportunity for employers to observe emerging talent that have been shortlisted for employment with their business, throughout the day, before then meeting with the applicant at an Employer Booth to conduct a formal interview.

Paddl Co has assembled various vendors to create a new virtual platform on which the National Innovation Games runs. Participants and attendees can join from anywhere with an internet connection using a device with a camera and sound.

The National Innovation Games – 18 June 2020 running sheet

Challenge: How might you use digital solutions to engage with your customers and your community.

Media running sheet

07:50 Media briefing

Media meet Emma Needham, via Zoom, in the #media_minderoo channel on Slack.

08:00 National Innovation Games opening

Media visit #the_main_event channel on Slack

And join for live stream opening addresses via Zoom, including:

● Dominique Fisher, CEO, Paddl Co.

● Leanne Kemp, Chief Entrepreneur, Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur

● Adrian Turner, Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program Lead, Minderoo Foundation

● Mark McKenzie, Chairman, COSBOA

08:30 Virtual doorstop

Media return to the #media_ minderoo channel on Slack

And join for a live Q&A via Zoom, including:

● Dominique Fisher, CEO, Paddl Co.

● Adrian Turner, Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program Lead, Minderoo Foundation

● Peter Strong, CEO, COSBOA

● One of the small business participants

● One of the university student participants

08:45 Conclusion of media experience

Participant running sheet

08:00 National Innovation Games opening

08:30 Sprint 1

10:30 Sprint 2

13:00 Sprint 3

15:30 Pitches

17:30 Judges deliberations / Virtual cocktail party

18:30 Awards

19:00 Games close

Business participants

The small businesses represented on 18 June 2020 include:

1. Beef Australia (producers Mactaggart Pastoral)

2. Kandanga Farm Store & Rural Supplies (Kandanga Mary Valley)

3. Noosa Holistic Health (Noosa)

4. Rod Harms Rural Property Agents and Auctioneers (Yeppoon)

5. Brisbane Valley Farm Direct (Comminya)

6. Sirromet Winery (Mount Cotton)

7. Coobeerie Park Wildlife Sanctuary (Yeppoon)

8. Emerald Pharmacy Services (Emerald)

9. Jodie Kennedy Event Management (Townsville)

10. Binna Burra Lodge (Beechmont Lamington National Park)

Student participants

The students participating on 18 June 2020 are living in or studying in Queensland, and attend the following educational institutions:

1. CQ University

2. Deakin University

3. Flinders University

4. Griffith University

5. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

6. James Cook University

7. Kaplan Business School

8. LaTrobe University

9. Macquarie University

10. Monash University

11. Queensland University of Technology

12. Swinburne University

13. Torrens University

14. University of Adelaide

15. University of Melbourne

16. University of Queensland

17. University of the People

18. University of South Australia

19. University of Southern Queensland

20. University of the Sunshine Coast

21. University of Technology Sydney

22. University of Texas at Austin

23. University of Western Australia

24. Western Sydney University

Support labs

Support labs provide participants with access to expert advice throughout the day (think – ‘phone a friend’) to tease out and validate ideas and solutions and format pitches.

The labs on 18 June 2020 include:

1. EarthCheck

2. Geoscape by PSMA

3. Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur

4. Paddl Co.

5. Small Business Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland, Rural Solutions Queensland Inc

Mentoring booths

Mentoring Booths offer participants a 15-minute one-on-one informal chat with representatives from industry and government. Business and industry participants may use the opportunity to recruit talent for open roles and even conduct interviews.

About Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, Minderoo Foundation is a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. The Minderoo Foundation Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program aims to deliver a new model for global leadership in climate-induced disaster resilience, reducing societal, environmental and economic harm and positioning Australia as the emerging global leader in fire and flood resilience by 2030.


COSBOA is the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia – the peak national advocacy body for Australian small-medium businesses (SMEs) made up of 33-member organisations, including Master Grocers, Pharmacy Guild, the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society and ACAPMA, representing over 1 million SMEs across Australia. COSBOA partnered with Paddl Co. to run an Innovation Games series in Victoria in 2017–2018, and this latest series, the National Innovation Games.

About Paddl Co.

Paddl Co. is an Australian tech company, headquartered in Melbourne, passionate about discovering new ways to better prepare all stakeholders for the future of work and economic disruption. enables ‘experience’ to be earned, captured, recognised and shared in a new way. Paddl Games is Paddl’s unique innovation discovery model, which enables participants to surface innovative solutions, IP and relevant talent, while generating professional experience for emerging talent. The National Innovation Games is a customised version of the Paddl Games model delivered by Paddl.

Media enquiries

COSBOA & Paddl Co

Emma Needham +61 (0)400 266 659

Minderoo Foundation

Alex Massey +61 (0)455 351 848



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