Australia Germany Business Conference and 3rd Annual Gala Dinner in Melbourne

14.09.15 Homepage

On Thursday, 10 September, the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce had the pleasure of hosting its flagship Australia Germany Business Conference and 2nd Annual Gala Dinner in Melbourne. With over 130 participants from German and Australian companies, Chamber members the media and beyond, both events were a tremendous success.

Taking place at the International Chamber House, the conference’s major theme was Innovation and Collaboration: Drivers for Future Growth. Whilst a broad theme, it facilitated an impressive variety of panel discussions, guest speakers and breakout sessions on the day, with numerous participants sharing their own unique business experiences. The conference was opened by Kristian Wolf, Executive Director of the Chamber, who was followed by warm welcomes from Ron Koehler, Chairman of Chamber and CEO of Schenker Australia, as well as The Hon. Liliana D’Ambrosio, Minster for Industry and Minister for Energy and Resources in the Victorian State Government.

Special guest speakers on the day included Dr. Eckhard Franz, Director External Economic Policy for BMWi Germany, Michelle Brown, President of AIDN-Vic Inc., Dr. John White, Chairman of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Australia and Michael Freyny, Executive General Manager of Siemens Australia. Presentation topics covered the policy implications of innovation and globalisation for the German Mittelstand, collaboration between SMEs and Victorian defence, Australia’s capacity for the manufacture of naval ships and Australia’s transition to ‘Industry 4.0’.

Furthermore, conference attendees had the chance to participate in interactive panel discussions and Q&A sessions, including sessions on open innovation, hidden champions and innovation in Australian manufacturing. Moderators for these discussions included Prof. Penny Sackett, Former Chief Scientist for Australia, Christoph Petzoldt, Managing Director of Simon-Kucher & Partners and Scott Moffat, Managing Director of Pilz Australia. The panel discussions were an excellent opportunity for all attendees to pose relevant, challenging questions about the current state and future of innovation in German and Australian industries, further proving the point that open dialogue, partnership and collaboration across sectors and cultures is crucial for sustained business success.

Perhaps most excitingly, attendees were able to visit their choice of three different “breakout sessions”, seeing innovation in action. It was, of course, also a great chance to stretch one’s legs. Session A was a visit to The Cluster for Innovation in the Wild, including a “show-and-tell-style” meeting with local entrepreneurs who have achieved success through innovative start-up businesses. Session B was a visit to RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, with access to impressive technologies such 3D-printers, 3-, 4- and 5-axis CNC machines and laser scanners, all of which facilitate increasingly complex product designs in manufacturing. Session C was a behind-the-scenes tour of the MCG, showcasing the impressive, collaborative work done with Siemens to improve sustainability at the iconic sporting venue.

Following the conference, the 3rd Annual Gala Dinner took place at the La Trobe Ballroom of the Sofitel in Melbourne, with warm welcomes again from Kristian Wolf, as well as the ambassadors Dr. Christoph Müller and Mr. David Ritchie AO. Most conference attendees joined the Chamber for this additional event, enjoying a fine, three-course dinner, musical entertainment, professional business presentations and like the conference, a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, mingle and network.

The Chamber would like to thank all of the sponsors, attendees, guest speakers and panellists who attended the events on the day. Without your kind participation and support, these events could not have been held.

We look forward to welcoming you all at future events and hope to see you at future conferences.

For more information on the conference, gala dinner and all associated special guests and sponsors, please make sure to visit For details on our upcoming events, please click here. Please stay tuned for conference and dinner photos on our official Flickr page, and for members, even more information about the day in our next German-Australian Business News.