Environment

Turning the tide on marine plastics at the Festival of Open Minds

Ian Campbell 12 September 2019
Aly Khafir is in AUstralia for 12 months as Expert in Residence at iAccelerate. Photo supplied

Aly Khafir is in Australia for 12 months as Expert in Residence at iAccelerate. Photo supplied

Anyone interested in innovation, sustainability, invention, and design, and how to get communities thriving with ideas needs to be at the Festival of Open Minds this Saturday to hear and see Aly Khalifa.

As an innovative design guru Aly will enlighten and excite those gathered, as he discusses, encourages and inspires us towards, an ‘Inventive Culture’.

Aly will reflect on his experiences of nurturing a culture where creative ideas bubble and people thrive to solve compelling problems. Examples span large civic projects to commercialising new inventions.

Aly’s time and energy at the moment is focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans to turn it into useful products for the circular economy.

“I am focussed on removing existing ocean plastic and stopping the flow of new plastic into the oceans to support a long-term goal of a plastic-free ocean,” he says.

“I want to connect the business community with verified sources of ocean plastic material around the world, and work to remove two million tons of ocean plastic and transform it into sustainable products.”

Aly is an innovator focused on social impact and sustainability.

His training as both a designer and mechanical engineer, coupled with deep international manufacturing experience, has enabled him and his team at Designbox to launch products for some of the most recognised consumer brands.

His work has been celebrated internationally, he’s an Eisenhower Fellow, and has garnered more than two dozen patents.

“I’m a product innovator and creative entrepreneur. Over time my wife, Beth, and I have realised that we keep gravitating towards and nurturing inventive culture,” Aly says.

Inventive culture is about establishing an environment where creative people thrive – an ecosystem that leads them to create new works.

“We are committed to fostering a creative community both locally and globally,” he says.

“We work on projects that propel ideologies, systems, experiences, and products forward in a way that makes the world better. We have a core mission of sustainability and are working on innovative, groundbreaking materials and processes throughout every design.”

Aly Khalifa is in Australia during 2019 as ‘Expert in Residence’ at iAccelerate and appears at the Festival of Open Minds thanks to the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.


The theme for Open Minds in 2019 is ‘People With Oomph’ inspired by Bega Valley song man Damon Davis and his song of the same name.

“People with oomph – they’re not lyin down. People with oomph – spread the good life. People with oomph – keep their own style. People with oomph – walk mile after mile,” Damon sings.

The 2019 Festival of Open Minds on Saturday, September 14 includes:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, entrepreneur focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, AKA Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer;
  • Corrine Gibbons, songstress and choir director;
  • Jonathan Kenna, Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden;
  • Captain Phil Holliday, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden Harbour Master;
  • Damon Davis, long time singer-songwriter and the original man of oopmh;
  • A local panel of leaders including Erica Dibden – Tilba Milk, Louise Brand – road safety campaigner, Kate Toyer – Eurobodalla vet and transgender advocate,  Warren Foster Jr – Aboriginal artist and leader, Darren Jones – Band Together, and Hannah Doole – climate change activist.

The night before (September 13) this day of discussion, we launch the festival with a FREE community celebration Parklight in the heart of Bega. From 6 pm Littleton Gardens will light up with magical occurrences and happenings, a celebration of our community with a focus on the contribution and talent of youth and Indigenous culture.

Adult tickets for Saturday’s program are on sale now, including lunch option, people 12 to 19 years get in FREE, but you do need to reserve your place. Students there on the day will also be in the running to win $500 to put towards a science education experience of their choice thanks to The Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub and Inspiring Australia.

Online tickets are selling fast, what’s left will be available at the door on the day.

Thank you to our Festival partners – 

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