2017 Conference



NFMRI’s third annual conference, “Philanthropy: Creating Impact and Dancing with Elephants”, took place on the 21st and 22nd of November 2017 at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

While our previous conferences sought to discuss key issues affecting the medical research and innovation sectors and to explore strategies and solutions to help build, support and grow the biomedical innovation sector in Australia, our third conference honed in on how small players can achieve impact by working with the sector’s ‘big players’. It brought together local and international experts to explore four key themes focused around how private and social investments in medical research, together with different strategies and bold actions, can lead to the advancement of innovations. The program included a fantastic line-up of speakers and also examined how we can increase Australia’s capability and capacity to deliver results all whilst growing the local economy. This included building a culture and funding ecosystem where industry, government, academia, venture capital and philanthropy converge to support innovations from beginning to end. Delegates left the conference with a better understanding of how to improve collaborations and how to build relationships between research and industry.

Our 2017 Conference consisted of the following four themes:

Theme 1 – Political pillars: working with all levels of government

As the largest ‘elephant’, Government has great influence and the ability to prioritise, accelerate and support medical research innovation. Whilst governments may have different priorities, programs and initiatives, they are still on the same dance floor as other key stakeholders.  Taking up so much of the dance floor means others need to work out how and where they can shine.  This theme explored the challenges and opportunities of working with government and provided an opportunity for delegates to have their say.

Theme 2 – Navigating amongst the elephants

Universities, venture capital, pharma and industry can also be elephants; they are big, each play significant roles, but navigating successfully between them and getting them to dance together and with smaller players can be complex. By working effectively and strategically, smaller players can maximize the benefits from each of the ‘elephants’.  This theme delved deeper into the what, the how and the why that drives our elephants and demonstrated how smaller players can dance together with them to achieve success – all without being ‘trod’ on.

Theme 3 – Pathways through the jungle

Charities, trusts and foundations are generally independent, smaller players. However, they can achieve significant impact by leading change, finding new pathways and doing the things that are difficult, if not impossible, for the elephants to do. They have the ability to be flexible, identify issues within their communities and influence change to improve the ecosystem. This theme discussed how the not-for-profit sector could harness connections and maximize impact.

Theme 4 – To waltz or to tango?

The common denominator with philanthropists is that they want to make a difference. How this is achieved varies between individuals. This theme provided an opportunity to hear from some of Australia’s most influential donors and learn more about their motivations and desires, how they dance with elephants and other smaller stakeholders and ultimately what it takes to work successfully with them.

Download a copy of our 2017 Conference Program


The conference was made possible thanks to generous support for our sponsors:

Conference Partner:

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