REIGNITED: Sydney startup festival Spark is back and kicking off in October

- October 3, 2023 2 MIN READ
Harry Godber - Maxine Sherrin - David Lillo-Trynes
Sparks past, present and future: Harry Godber, Maxine Sherrin and David Lillo-Trynes

The annual Spark Festival will return to Sydney from October 30, with Harry Godber and David Lillo-Trynes as co-CEOs of the week-long celebration of startups.

The revitalised and revamped Spark Festival will bring startups across NSW together with leading investors, hubs, accelerators, universities and policymakers to showcase the strength and breadth of the state’s technology capability. 

It will feature events including panels, roundtables, pitch nights and networking forums, Spark Festival will drive engagement into and across the NSW tech sector, improving visibility and connectivity. 

The federal Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR), the Australian Computer Society (ACS), William Buck and the Atlassian Foundation have backed the annual festival after former CEO Maxin Sherrin stepped down after seven years in the role.

Harry Godber is a Fintech Australia director and former policy advisor to two prime ministers, including Malcolm Turnbull, and helped lead the recent exit of Sydney fintech Flare to private equity. David Lillo-Trynes has helped oversee the creation of hundreds of new companies as part of UTS Startups. 

Godber said it was an important time to give the New South Wales’ tech community visibility and certainty. The festival will also coincide with the release of the new Startup Muster ecosystem census for the first time in five years. 

“Dave and I are thrilled to be leading Spark into its next chapter and helping put our state on the map as a global leader in generating new ideas, jobs and economic complexity,” he said. 

His co-festival director, Lillo-Trynes, said, ‘Both Harry and I have worked, and still work, in startups. We know full well the impact and the value that the Spark Festival brings to the ecosystem, and what this means for startups and supporters alike.”

Spark Festival chair Murray Hurps said the duo understand that a key enabler of successful ecosystems is its connectivity. 

“Regardless of good or bad environmental conditions, this is one area we can all benefit from improving, and Spark will continue to be dedicated to this,” he said.

The festival is now open to ideas for events. It will be NSW-focused, with extra emphasis on Western Sydney and Tech Central. Ideas can be pitched to david[at]sparkfestival.co.

ACS CEO Chris Vein said that his member organisation shares a common mission with Spark of bringing together the thriving technology and startup communities.

“Our partnership with Spark is about driving connections and the opportunities across industry, government, and academia which is why we are proud to be supporting the Festival,” he said/

Atlassian Foundation director Steve King, said the impact of Spark in driving Australia’s economic transition through collaboration and innovation cannot be overstated.

“By supporting Spark, we’re investing in a future where access and opportunity through entrepreneurship is core to driving sustainable productivity growth and social impact throughout our country,” he said. 

The new Spark Festival will run from October 30 to November 4. For details and to submit ideas, head to sparkfestival.co