The Australian National University (ANU) has launched a new Indigenous-led innovation hub to develop long-term partnerships and collaborations with First Nations businesses and communities, which already contribute billions of dollars to the Australian economy.
Gandaywarra: First Nations Innovation Hub will provide access to resources and mentorship for Indigenous and non-Indigenous innovators, with the values of country, culture, community and prosperity embedded into everything it does.
Michelle Jasper, a Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngati Porou, Te Arawa woman from Aotearoa, is the Founder and Head of Gandaywarra. She said the focus of the Hub is to build and activate a pipeline of strong, long-term partnerships and capabilities, which will enable First Nations communities, academia, industry, government and end-users to collaborate and innovate.
"Gandaywarra is truly innovative in its aspiration to do things differently within ANU but also the broader economic ecosystem, by embedding traditional knowledge and practice into research translation, application and commercialisation," she said.
Vice-President (First Nations) Professor Peter Yu, a Yawuru man from Broome, said ANU is proud to launch Gandaywarra to enable innovators and entrepreneurs to develop, test, and scale up their ideas, products and endeavours.
"Gandaywarra will provide resources toward approved projects that will promote autonomy and activation of the First Nations estate, for First Nations peoples to achieve economic self-determination," he said.
"In addition to creating a space to develop commercial innovations, income from Gandaywarra will support innovative policy and project work.
"Through the ANU First Nations Portfolio designing, testing and implementing policy reforms, we aim to enable Indigenous Australians to access and seize economic opportunities."
The Australian First Nations business sector contributes more than $4.9 billion to the economy each year and is growing at a pace of around four per cent annually.
"Our work with Gandaywarra will support First Nations entrepreneurs, adaptation and improvement of the ecosystem, create new and disruptive ways of thinking, and knowledge that will feed into policymaking and evidence-based solutions," Ms Jasper said.
"In turn, this will mobilise and activate the undervalued and often overlooked asset-rich First Nations economy here in Australia."
Ms Jasper said Gandaywarra will act as a vehicle to empower Indigenous Australians to overcome historic marginalisation and to become economically self-determined.
"Gandaywarra will provide resources toward approved projects that will promote this autonomy and activation of the First Nations' estate, for First Nations' peoples to achieve economic self-determination," she said.
Gandaywarra is Wiradyuri for "Grow Long", to represent long-term impact. The name was gifted by Ngambri (Walgalu), Wallaballooa (Ngunnawal), Wiradyuri (Erambie) custodian, Paul Girrawah House.
Located within the ANU First Nations Portfolio, the Hub is also supported by the ANU Office of Business Engagement and Commercialisation.
Story by Kathryn Vukovljak