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RDA Northern Rivers partnered with AusIndustry, Training Services NSW and Manufacturing Skills Australia for a future-proofing event for our regions’ small businesses. Opportunity Knocks: innovation, automation, decarbonisation and digitisation brought together motivational speakers and industry experts to inspire attendees to transform disruption and uncertainty into opportunity.

Brad Twynham addressing the audience at Opportunity Knocks

Brad Twynham shares his insights with an engaged audience of local businesses

Held at Crystalbrook Byron, the event opened with Welcome to Country from Arakwal Elder Michael Kay-Watson. This was followed by a Mayoral Opening Address from Byron Shire Mayor, Cr Michael Lyon.

Opportunity in disruption

Keynote speaker Brad Twynham, global consultant in radical leadership, gave an inspiring address. In a world of disruption (technology advances/climate change), Mr Twynham took a radical approach to building business resilience. His approach focused on being prepared for disruption and getting to the heart of challenging problems quickly. Being flexible and adaptable was a key takeaway for finding opportunity in disruption.

This was followed by presentations from James Krahe of QUT. He shared the experience of Food Futures Systems CRC to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration.  Mel Ireland of the Australian Industry Group presented technology as the fourth industrial revolution. Within this, she introduced the concept of ESG – Environment, Social and Governance. ESG, she said, will be essential for businesses as technology continues to advance. Toni Peggram of AI Group rounded up the morning session by introducing the audience to the many uses of AI for business. She said that introducing AI can be of great benefit to business. The key is not to see it as a replacement of staff, but an opportunity to retrain and upskill existing staff.

After lunch, a panel of local businesses with John Clark of Ant Packaging, Stuart Picken of Edenvale Foods, Chris Edwards of Launchpad Australia and Katrina Main of Cawarra Cosmetics shared their stories of starting and adapting to address disruption. Their stories of adaptation and taking up opportunities were inspiring.


The day was rounded up with SCU ReCirculator, AusIndusty, NRRC, Training Services NSW, Manufacturing Skills Australia and Business NSW sharing how they support small businesses. It’s good to see so many services and supports available to help businesses manage and recover from disruption. The extensive list of support and benefits for small businesses was well received.

group of 8 representatives from the Opportunity Knocks partners

Opportunity Knocks partners and supporters, from left: James Krahe (QUT), Rownena Ryan (AusIndustry), Damon McCarthy (Training Services NSW), Brad Twynham (Keynote) Nathan Cooper (Training Services NSW), Lisa Richards (Byron Shire Council) Nathan McGath (RDA Northern Rivers), Leon Dury (Manufacturing Skills Australia)

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