Published on 17th February 2016 at 12:29

Passengers on Qantas flight 73 departing from Sydney to San Francisco this afternoon will experience the world’s first tech talk in the sky.


‘Ideas That Travel’ – a partnership with TEDxSydney – will see four of Australia’s most exciting technology and science innovators share their vision for the future of technology and design in a series of talks held in the nose of Qantas’ B747 during the thirteen hour flight.


The talks will be live-streamed to passengers via the in-flight entertainment system and available online following QF73’s arrival into San Francisco. The series will also be screened during TEDxSydney on 25 May 2016.


Joining QF73 will be a group of ten Australian tech entrepreneurs and start-ups sourced by innovation hub, The York Butter Factory, and Australia’s leading supplier diversity organisation, Supply Nation.


Qantas Group Executive Brand, Marketing, and Corporate Affairs Olivia Wirth said: “Ninety-five years ago, Qantas was a start-up itself, and a large part of our success comes from the fact we have kept trying new ideas. So, we’re delighted to be able to give these emerging thinkers a unique platform to tell their stories.


“This is the perfect route for a world-first. We all know about the impact of the California tech boom, but what’s really exciting is the growing number of Australians doing business with Silicon Valley on the one hand, and building a home-grown Australian culture of entrepreneurialism on the other.


“One of the reasons we re-launched flights between Sydney and San Francisco was to support growing business travel driven by the tech boom, and we’re looking forward to playing our part in strengthening the ties between innovators on both sides of the Pacific.”


TEDxSydney Founder Remo Giuffré said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Qantas on this exciting ‘Ideas that Travel’ adventure celebrating the airline’s San Francisco service connecting Australian and US-based entrepreneurs.
“Some of the most exciting speakers from TEDxSydney alumni will be sharing their ideas at 30,000 feet while members of our extended networks are anticipating some serious meeting and greeting in the Bay Area next week. We’re all looking forward to hearing more about those experiences at TEDxSydney 2016 at the Opera House in May,” said Mr Giuffré.


The group of Australian start-ups travelling on QF73 will tour the world headquarters of tech giants Google, Twitter, Facebook, Khan Academy and Silicon Valley Bank and will participate in workshops at the Singularity University to help the businesses progress their business plans and explore new business opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.


During the trip, the startup group will also wear Fitbits to trial the new Qantas Assure app, which goes live later this year*. Australian Qantas Frequent Flyers who buy eligible insurance products from Qantas Assure and download the app will be able to earn Qantas Points for being active, which they can monitor through wearable technology.


Qantas’ Sydney-San Francisco services operates six days per week, with flights operated by Boeing 747-400 aircraft with the same interiors that feature on the airline’s flagship A380s. The service re-started in December 2015.

* While not yet available for purchase, Qantas Assure will be a new insurance membership with its own wellness program. It will be available to Australian resident Qantas Frequent Flyers aged 13 years or over. 


Biographies of TEDx Sydney speakers on QF73:


Jo Burston, CEO and Founder of Rare Birds


Jo Burston is the founder and CEO of Job Capital and entrepreneurial movement Inspiring Rare Birds, which works to promote opportunity for women in entrepreneurship and has a global vision to inspire one million more women entrepreneurs by 2020. Rare Birds recently published Rare Birds: Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs, a book featuring honest stories about the journeys of several of Australia’s most inspiring women entrepreneurs.


Jo has been recognised as one of Australia’s top 50 entrepreneurs for the last five years, is a

regional Oceania ambassador for the UN-recognised Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, on the advisory board for the University of Sydney Business School and University of Sydney Innovation and Entrepreneur Advisory Group, Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) and a global ambassador for innovative accounting software Xero. Jo is an active mentor for fast growth entrepreneurs and is passionate about encouraging young Australians to endeavour to find out exactly who it is that they want to become, and create their own jobs to achieve this.


Jo has had numerous speaking involvements with Google, Dropbox, Xero, EY, National

Achievers Congress, Women’s Agenda/General Assembly and Entrepreneurs Organisation

(EO). Her philanthropic interests include R U OK?, Can Too, Project Futures, and School of Life Foundation.


Speaker Topic: Jo talks to gender bias and the fact that it remains an obstacle for women when seeking backing to expand offshore, but will explain why it’s not always the blokes holding women back.



Michael Biercuk – Experimental Physicist and Director of the Quantum Control Laboratory


Associate Professor Michael J. Biercuk is an experimental physicist and Director of the Quantum Control Laboratory within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems at the University of Sydney.  He runs a research group focused on developing techniques to control and exploit quantum mechanical phenomena as resources powering a new generation of quantum-enabled technologies.  His research has been recognized with feature coverage in media outlets such as The New York Times and The Economist, as well as prizes including the 2015 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.


Michael was educated in the United States, earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Harvard University.  He performed postdoctoral research in the Ion Storage Group at NIST, led by 2012 Nobel Laureate Dr. David Wineland.  In addition to his academic experience he served from 2005-2008 as a full-time scientific consultant to US Defence agency DARPA, where he advised the government on technology investments in quantum information science and next-generation microprocessor architectures.   Michael is a regular contributor to both the technical literature and the popular press, providing commentary on issues pertaining to science policy and the role of science in society.

Speaker topic: Mobile phones, the internet and GPS navigation are just some of the things that have been made possible by advances in quantum physics. But all that may be just scratching the surface of quantum physics full potential, according to Sydney University physicist Michael. Michael will discuss the research in quantum physics and how it can be used to transform technology beyond.


Marita Cheng – CEO and Founder of 2MAR Robotics
Marita Cheng, 2012 Young Australian of the Year, runs a robotics company and an artificial intelligence company. 2Mar Robotics makes affordable and beautiful telepresence robots – robots which enable people to be in two places at the same time, for people with disabilities, CEOs and busy people. 2Mar will be shipping their first pre-orders in April 2016.  Aipoly uses convolutional neural networks on the iPhone and Android phones to identify objects in real-time. Aipoly launched in the App Store in January at CES 2016 (the world’s largest consumer electronics show in the world with 170,000 attendees) and has already won multiple awards in Australia and around the world.

An internationally recognized Women In Engineering advocate for her work as the founder of Robogals, which has taught 45,000 girls in nine countries robotics to get them interested in engineering, Marita is a sought-after keynote speaker.

Marita attended Singularity University, located at NASA Ames, in 2015 on a Google scholarship, studying exponential technologies to improve the lives of a billion people within the next 10 years, and has degrees in mechatronics engineering and computer science from the University of Melbourne.


Speaker topic: Marita will offer deep insights into her work on the vanguard of robotics. With an in-flight demo of her teleportation robot “Teleport”, Marita will consider the ways that robotics are transforming the way we live and communicate, helping people with disabilities and their carers, and easily enabling borderless communication and collaboration across the globe.



Jeremy Howard – CEO and Founder of Enlitic


Jeremy Howard is a serial entrepreneur, business strategist, developer, and educator. He is the CEO of Enlitic, a startup he founded to use recent advances in machine learning to transform the practice of medicine, and bring modern medical diagnostics to billions of people in the developing world for the first time.


Jeremy is the youngest faculty member at Singularity University, where he teaches data science, and is also a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum. Previously he was the President and Chief Scientist of Kaggle, a community and competition platform for over 150,000 data scientists. Before working at Kaggle, Jeremy was the top ranked participant in data science competitions globally, in 2010 and 2011. He founded two successful Australian startups (the email provider FastMail, and the insurance pricing algorithm company Optimal Decisions Group), both of which grew internationally and were sold to large international companies.


Jeremy started his career in management consulting, working at the world’s most exclusive firms, including McKinsey & Co, and AT Kearney (becoming the youngest engagement manager world-wide, and building a new global practice in what is now called “Big Data”). He is also a keen student, for example developing a new system for learning Chinese, which he used to develop usable Chinese language skills in just one year. Jeremy has mentored and advised many startups, and is also an angel investor. He has contributed to a range of open source projects as a developer, and was a regular expert guest on Australia’s most popular TV morning news program.


Speaker topic: Jeremy will discuss recent leaps in deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence that closely mimics the way our brains work and how the power of deep learning may revolutionise the way medicine is practised, with more accurate detection of disease and making smarter diagnostics available to billions of people in the developing world.


Tech entrepreneurs and start-ups participating in San Francisco tour and meet/greets:


Name:             Rowan Matz, Vice President of Product

Industry:          Engineering and construction technology

Innovation:      Collaboration app to easily ready, annotate and mark up your PDFs.



Name:             James Crawford, Co-Founder & MD

Industry:          Travel Tech, Food and Beverage, Startup

Innovation:      Coffee App providing users with GPS locations of their best coffee shops/cafes in specified locations, complimented with user rankings and reviews.



Name:                         Valentin Muenzel, CEO & Co-Founder

Industry:          Cleantech, Energy storage

Innovation:      Cutting edge battery management platform.



Name:             Christopher Seymour, CEO

Industry:          Travel Tech

Innovation:      Car rental eCommerce platform that works with car rental/fleet software to provide customisable eCommerce website.



Name:             Mitch Secrett, Co-Founder

Industry:          Media and Broadcasting

Location:         Melbourne, VIC

Innovation:      Personalised radio app that allows users to listen/watch the shows, music and news they want to hear.


Frank Body

Name:             Bree Johnson, Director

Industry:          Beauty, skin care

Innovation:      Australian made, eco coffee-based skincare company.


HC Building and Construction

Name:             Kirsty Broderick, CEO

Industry:          Building and Construction services

Innovation:      Designing energy efficient homes for Indigenous remote communities


Fields Group

Name:             Shane Fields, CEO

Industry:          Security Services, Cleaning Waste Management, Labour Hire

Innovation:      Delivering new platforms to roll out security services in international markets.


Muru Group

Name:             Mitchell Ross, CEO

Industry:          IT – product & service

Innovations:     Development of new and emerging technologies including wearables and virtual reality systems and developing office supply arm offering a range of indigenous branded office supplies.


Gilimbaa Pty Ltd

Name:                         David Williams, CEO

Industry:          Creative Design Agency

Innovations:     Driving a global strategy focused at connecting Indigenous cultures throughout the world. Preserve, celebrate and share unique culture through technological innovation.


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