These are the people 'changing the game' in Canberra

These are the people 'changing the game' in Canberra

Dotted among our suburbs, gathered in our co-working spaces and brainstorming in makeshift offices in Civic are a unique breed of Canberrans.

They are our innovators, game changers and status quo challengers - and 12 of them are set to appear onstage on Thursday night at Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre's Festival of Ambitious Ideas.

Andrew Snell's tech start-up Jaja will replace the traditional business card.

Andrew Snell's tech start-up Jaja will replace the traditional business card.Credit:Rohan Thomson

Speakers at the event come from a range of industries, including technology, media, social enterprise, government and academia.

Speaker Andrew Snell's idea is a definitely an ambitious one.


Snell is the owner of tech start-up Jaja, a new app that aims to replace the giving and receiving of business cards.

"Jaja brings your address books, contact lists and social media together in one place," he said.

"In one action, you can share your details with a contact and be connected – instantly."

Snell works with a team of two from the WOTSO co-working space on Northbourne Avenue, and said the idea was born from "meeting someone and then having to seek them out across a range of platforms".

The Jaja team has spent the past 18 months "in the minds of users" and developed a working prototype before going into active development in February of this year. The app will launch to the public at the end of 2016.

"The long-term vision is to change the way people communicate - make it about the person you've met and not about the tools," Snell said. "We want to launch the unexpected - to do the opposite of what the market expects."

Andrew Marriott from The Film Distillery also has an ambitious idea: he wants to see Canberra become a mini Hollywood.

"But a better Hollywood - one that's a little less expensive," he said.

Marriott's vision is for a thriving film industry in Canberra, with four $1.5m films being filmed and distributed out of the ACT each year. Scripts are already being recruited through The Film Distillery's national program for emerging writers, and funding for a first film - a thriller set in a shipping container - has been raised through private investors.

"These are investors and high-risk investors who'd normally invest in start-ups," Marriott said.

He said his idea was born from the sheer frustration of watching good creative talent leave Canberra for Sydney and ​Melbourne.

."A number of great television series and films have been made in Canberra over the past couple of years and they generally have to import everyone in," Marriott said.

"We need to film four movies a year to keep the industry here sustainable.

"Ultimately, we'd love to build a movie studio here with ongoing investment into local people and equipment."

Snell and Marriott will be joined by a series of other 'game changers' - including Julie Nichols from The Local Larder, Phil Preston from Red Robot Industries and Miles Jakeman from the Citadel Group - on the night.

Festival of Ambitious Ideas, Thursday 27 October 2016, 5.30pm, Alastair Swayn Theatre, Brindabella Business Park. Tickets from

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

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