The University of Newcastle, Australia

Pitchfest: Connecting the humanities with industry

Monday, 17 September 2018

An app that connects consumers with ethically made goods, a symposium on the humanities’ contribution to the future of humanity and a linguistics project that will preserve an endangered Torres Straits language were some of the projects that attracted funding and support at the University of Newcastle’s first ever humanities Pitchfest.

Hosted by the Centre for 21st Century HumanitiesPitchfest was held on August 23 2018 at NeW Space and was attended by over 60 Newcastle industry representatives, who gathered to hear about opportunities to partner with six humanities researchers and entrepreneurs. Centre for 21st Century Humanities Director, Professor Ros Smith said the event was aligned with the Centre’s goal of teaming humanities research with entrepreneurship and creating partnerships with the community.

“One of the Centre’s main aims is external engagement, which means taking our research out of the University into the world and creating humanities research with impact,” Professor Smith said. “The purpose of Pitchfest was to gain support with the external community, and build relationships with industry partners interested in our research with the view to collaborating with, donating to or sponsoring our projects.”

The event was a success with offers of $28,000 in financial support following the pitches and many industry representatives also offered non-financial support in the form of partnerships and mentorships.

Member of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Board and co-founder of Hudson Street Hum, Suzie Galwey said the pitches showed the depth and breadth of humanities research occurring in Newcastle.

“I was really impressed with the digital humanities opportunities that were presented and what they mean for us and the world in general, but also how they can work at a local level here in Newcastle. I think there’s a real chance for industry and individuals to work with the Centre’s research projects. What we saw at Pitchfest is a suite of opportunities to work at a local level on something that has global ramifications. It’s great to see the Centre opening the door and inviting industry to get involved in cutting-edge digital humanities work that can then be broadcast to the rest of the world,” Ms Galwey said.

The projects pitched on the night included:

  • Stage 3 of the Colonial Frontier Massacres Map that documents the massacres of indigenous people that occurred in Australia from 1788-1960.
  • The Certified Corethics App that seamlessly connects sourcing agents and consumers with ethical goods.
  • A linguistics PhD scholarship to document the highly endangered Kala Lagaw Ya language of the Torres Straits, preserving it for future generations and developing materials to help the community maintain their language and cultural heritage.
  • Deep Time 2.0 which is a virtual reality platform and comprehensive data collection and management solution that preserves heritage and lets people interact with historical sites, even after the process of site transformation.
  • Kawa Translation Hub, a website that maps the history of world poetry in any language.
  • A Newcastle based symposium on the future of humanity featuring Professor Nick Bostrom of the Future of Humanity Institute (Oxford) to discuss how the humanities can contribute to a better future for humanity and to managing existential risks to humanity such as artificial intelligence, nuclear war, catastrophic climate change, and systemic global inequity of opportunity.

Read more information about these projects.

To partner with the Centre or sponsor one of these projects or the Centre’s work you can donate now or please contact Ros Smith via email

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