Myriad 2018 – A Glimpse of Tomorrow’s World

From May 16-18, Brisbane will be the epicentre of the fast-developing worlds of technology and innovation as Myriad – the three-day showcase of start-ups, new concepts, and next-generation technology – opens its doors at the RNA Showgrounds.

The only event in Australia that brings together the five elements – start-ups, investors, students, government and enterprise – of an innovation ecosystem, Myriad is designed to deliver a program that is stacked with workshops, presentations, product demonstrations, seminars and experiences – many delivered by industry heavyweights flying in from across the world – that shine a spotlight on the sharp edge of technological innovation.

And there will be a tremendous amount to discover and learn. 200 exhibitors and more than 100 speakers will take part this year and Myriad’s program focuses on seven areas – Cities, Play, World, Health, Food, Money, and Culture – which together will mean the showcasing of technologies that touch every aspect of our lives.

The automotive industry gets a guernsey too, and MTA Queensland will play a major role at Myriad through its sponsorship of the Myriad Garage.

The Garage is the exhibition space directly beneath Myriad’s main stage area and will feature exhibits and product demonstrations, including those from clients of the MTAiQ Innovation Hub. These will include a presentation of a flying car concept; a new electric ‘assembled’ vehicle; and a wireless-charging electric bus. The Association will also operate a purpose-built theatrette to screen automotive innovation videos from around the world.

Dr Brett Dale, MTA Queensland Group CEO, will represent the Association at Myriad as a keynote speaker, delivering an address that will cover how we are at the dawn of a new era of integrated mobility and how the automotive industry must embrace the digital economy and build business models that will take advantage of the mobility revolution.

Dr Dale will also facilitate a panel discussion on ‘Are Flying Cars the Way of the Future?’ that will feature Steve Baxter, Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur; Professor Michael Milford from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty; and Kellie Nuttall, Global Mobility Expert from Deloittes.

In addition, Juraj Vaculík, Founder and CEO of AeroMobil – an advanced engineering company developing a flying car that combines a sports car and a light aircraft in a single vehicle – is flying over from Europe to join the event.

“Australia is a perfect market for a real flying car capable of both road and air operation,” said Mr Vaculík. “Let’s imagine that with a single vehicle you will be able to travel absolutely free, door to door, up to 700 km radius. AeroMobil is ready for take-off in Australia!”

In short, if you want to know not only where the automotive industry is heading, but where society is headed, then Myriad 2018 is the place to be.

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF EXPO

2018 is Myriad’s second year of operation and follows a debut in March 2017, held at Brisbane Powerhouse, that was an unqualified success – more than 2000 people attended and even Cyclone Debbie, which battered the city during the event, could not dampen the spirits of the attendees, guests and exhibitors.

The aftermath – of the event, not the cyclone – was all positive, with the Queensland government, which through its Advance Queensland initiative supports the event, especially pleased with its impact.
“After a hugely successful 2017 event, we are now looking forward to welcoming even more investors to Queensland, who will no doubt be seeking the next great start-ups and technology,” said Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, at the time.

“The concept of Myriad is strongly built on the foundation of facilitating and building connections and, on average, attendees to this year’s event each made nine new business connections.
“We know the greatest motivation for people to attend was for the potential networking opportunities, and this year’s event certainly delivered. We must not underestimate the value of the thousands of new relationships formed and the countless ideas that have been sparked as a result of Myriad.”

The success of Myriad 2017, and the enthusiasm with which it was met, is exactly what its founders, CEO & Co-Founder Martin Talvari – the former organiser and Chief Strategy Officer of Slush.org, the world’s leading start-up event which now draws more than 40,000 attendees together over three days – and Co-Founder Murray Galbraith were aiming for.

“The first and most important part of the Myriad structure is that we include lots of students and allow them to grow with us,” said Martin. “Our main focus is on creating an experience-forward environment and our measurement for success is all about how many genuine connections are made.

“Secondly, it’s all about mixing the industries. I believe my background in civil engineering and arts brings a unique twist to the Myriad events – innovation happens at the intersections – and this is why we are bringing together multiple industries and mixing students with senior executives, engineers with designers etc. The events are so much more than a networking opportunity, they are about an experience. We want attendees to leave with much more than business cards and potential investments – we want to open their minds to new opportunities and insights.”

Tucked into Martin’s statement is one of the reasons that Myriad has become such a success – it is not just another festival or expo, not just another gathering of like-minded industry types. It’s a rather different beast altogether, with different goals and aspirations, not just for itself, but for those who take part.

“Most events are designed to preach to the converted,” said Murray. “If you are in marketing, you go along to a marketing expo and afterward you might say, ‘I learned some stuff and I swapped some business cards’. But what value was actually created? That’s a one-way conversation.

“What we try and do is design an experience where there is organised discomfort. I want you to progress and be challenged, and challenge other people. Innovation is a contact sport, so I guess what we are building is one big stadium for that contact sport.

“The government, brands, students, academics, investors and not-for-profits do not normally get together, and that’s the whole value proposition – the conversations and relationships that are made over Myriad’s two-and-a-half days genuinely shift the needle.”

This special quality of Myriad is clear in the breadth of sectors and subjects it will cover and in its founders’ efforts to make the technology and innovations being presented not only as close to the latest in developments as possible, but also as relevant to Australia as possible.

“At Myriad 2017, I thought the food topic was just part of the big health theme until I realised it deserves its own place,” said Martin. “So, at Myriad 2018, we are going to explore the Future of Food as one of the main themes. It’s a serious issue that we don’t talk about nearly enough. Food and Health, or longevity in general, is a topic that I am extremely passionate about. We are currently at a crossroad, where society is at a time of deep uncertainty at every link in the global food chain. I believe Australia is on the cusp of change towards a healthier future and we can tap into that.”

For the Food and Health segment of Myriad, Martin has put extra effort into inviting some of the world’s leading minds to share their insights. For example, Bill Maris – a neuroscientist, entrepreneur and venture capitalist focused on technology and the life sciences – is a speaker this year. The founder and former CEO of Google Ventures, where he managed $2.5billion and made more than 400 investments in companies, Maris is the creator of Google’s Calico project, a multi-billion-dollar company focused on the genetics of ageing.

“The Future of Cities is an obvious area to focus on for me personally, as a former civil engineer,” added Martin. “Australia is one of the fastest growing construction and real estate markets and, at the same time, one of the leaders in computer science. So naturally we should explore the mix of the two industries, because the built environment industry really needs a boost in innovation. With MTA Queensland including mobility and transport, the Future of Cities track will be one of the most interesting this year.”

Showcasing up-to-the-minute technology means bringing some of the leading names and leaders in innovation and investment to make presentations, and some real heavyweights will be at Myriad this year.

“For the Future of Cities, I was looking for something exciting and unique,” said Martin. “Last year, I joined the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, where SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a ‘major’ update on his plans to not only colonise Mars, but also revolutionise city-to-city travel by rockets, right here on Earth. I thought it would be interesting to have Steve Jurvetson, who was an early investor in, and sits on the boards of, SpaceX and Tesla join us to speak about this exciting vision and other trends in technology. He has invested in just about every awesome company in Silicon Valley.”

THE BACKGROUND

For Martin, the path to Myriad started in an unusual way.

“I began my career as a structural engineer and got my degree in Civil Engineering, specialising in the mathematics of structures,” he said. “I got connected to the start-up world because I programmed a game and needed investors. I joined a ton of meet-ups and started networking and meeting people in the community. The next thing I knew, I was part of organising Slush.
“It took me about four years of putting on events in 38 countries around the world – and traveling to 82 – to realise what I was doing could actually be a real, sustainable thing. One of those countries I visited was Australia and I knew straight away I want to build something special here.

“Now, I see myself as this business-focused guy with an engineering background who relates to super-techy folks and can get ‘in the weeds’ about new innovations while also being able to connect at a high level with sponsors or venture capitalists looking for the next big thing. I have learned how to highlight the start-up and tech scenes in traditionally underserved geographies and really get to the heart of what makes those places and people tick.”

Martin and Murray met at a Slush gathering in Melbourne – an event that Martin organised – and following Murray’s involvement with the Pause Fest tech event in Melbourne, they saw that a Slush-like event in Australia was well overdue. After some time and effort in securing interest, the pair partnered with the Queensland government to bring it to Brisbane.

“I knew wholeheartedly this thing should exist,” said Murray. “We took the idea on the road and tried to meet with as many governments as possible. Finally, after Martin was invited to participate in a business delegation from Finland, we met with some government people who said, ’We want the economic development that came from Slush, how do we get it?’ and he said, ‘You can have it. It’s called Myriad’.”

Slush is something of a blueprint for Myriad. The two events cover much of the same ground and have a philanthropic foundation at their heart – like Slush, Myriad is moving towards becoming not-for-profit. And making students a vital part of the Myriad structure is a cool idea – having those most enthused by the possibilities of technology and the start-up culture involved spotlights the founders’ efforts in fostering and encouraging Australia’s start-up and innovation culture.

“Many people in Australia believe the issue related to our start-up ecosystem is the lack of funding or a lack of resources, but that is just not true, it is all cultural,” said Murray. “And events such as Myriad are by far the most efficient vehicle for shifting attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

“That’s why we are excited to be running the Garage with MTA Queensland. We want 10,000 people to come in, to see an idea, see a concept, and think, ‘I didn’t know it was ok for me to drop out and start my own business. I thought I had to follow traditional paths, but this guy is not doing that’.”

Ultimately, Myriad’s purpose is to identify and showcase the next set of brilliant ideas, concepts and projects, throw their creators into the mix with academics, investors and government, and kickstart conversations that will lead to a cultural shift and a booming innovation culture across Queensland, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. It’s a lofty ambition, but one that got off to cracking start in 2017 and one that looks set to grow ever stronger.

“The first three-year strategy was to become the best in Queensland, then the best in Australia, and then the most influential event in Asia Pacific,” said Martin. “I’ve seen this strategy happening with Slush which, of all places, started in Helsinki to become the most influential event between Europe and Asia.”

Myriad takes place from May 16-18 at the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane. Find out more about the event at www.myriad.org/

Tickets for the main expo can be bought online at www.myriad.org/tickets. Entry to the Myriad Garage is free.

3 May 2018