The University of Newcastle, Australia

Creativity the key to unlocking new ideas

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Passionate trailblazer and sustainable business founder, Stephanie Woollard, will headline the University’s Enterprise + Innovation 2018 (E+I18) month-long event, which aims to inspire original ideas and new perspectives among staff and students.

E+I tile

As part of the activities taking place across campuses this month, Ms Woollard will deliver a public lecture next Wednesday to discuss how she used innovation and a bit of tenacity to develop the Seven Women organisation and empower more than 5,000 marginalised women in Nepal to lift themselves out of poverty.

At the age of 22, while travelling in Kathmandu, Ms Woollard came across seven disabled women who were residing in a tin shed and struggling to make a living.

With her last $200, she paid for trainers to teach the women how to produce products for sale locally and abroad, transforming a kind gesture into a social enterprise that now facilitates sustainable tourism to the region and trains local women to be self-employed.

“I was horrified to learn how anyone with a physical deformity was made to feel they had no place in the family and village. I realised I had the ability to make a difference, so I put my remaining money towards hiring trainers that taught the women how to make knitted products to sell at the local market,” Ms Woollard said.

She will deliver her keynote address, The Power of Social Enterprise, on Wednesday 19 September from 6pm-8pm at the Playhouse, Civic Theatre.

This year’s calendar of events will also see campuses brought to life with vibrant exhibitions and inventive installations as part of the Create festival that runs until Friday 14 September, while the Newcastle City Precinct will be activated with twilight markets, food, music and a moonlight movie as part of the Energise celebration on Thursday 20 September.

On Wednesday 12 September, E+I18 also launched MakerSpace, an ongoing initiative that offers students a dedicated space to access resources such as 3D printers and laser cutters for making and problem solving.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching), Professor Liz Burd, said the annual event is a celebration of the University’s bright minds and creative community.

“E+I18 is an extension of some of the bold steps we have taken over the past few years in an ongoing effort to deliver more innovative teaching and learning methods. This is an opportunity for people to come together and share ideas outside the office or classroom that could lead to new discoveries or breakthroughs,” Professor Burd said.

“We’ve expanded our events across all campuses for the entire month of September, and I strongly encourage staff, students and the general community to interact with the range of fantastic activities on offer.”

As part of the ongoing commitment to growing the region’s entrepreneurial capacity, the University’s Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) will also facilitate a number of sessions throughout the month to demonstrate the potential of the resources available all year round.

E+I18 activities are free of charge and the full schedule of events can be accessed at

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