Gandaywarra: First Nations Innovation Hub

Gandaywarra is Wiradyuri for Grow Long.


This Wiradyuri language name was gifted to the ANU First Nations Innovation Hub by Ngambri (Walgalu), Wallaballooa (Ngunnawal), Wiradyuri (Erambie) custodian, Paul Girrawah House

Gandaywarra: First Nations Innovation Hub sits within the First Nations Portfolio and works in partnership with the ANU Office of Business Engagement and Commercialisation to complement their services.

Gandaywarra purpose:

To build and activate a pipeline of strong, long-term partnerships and capabilities which will enable First Nations communities, ANU, industry, philanthropy, government, and end-users to collaborate and innovate.

What we offer

  • A central point of contact for stakeholders to access interdisciplinary research capability at ANU.
  • Business and commercial development support, including relationship management and brokering, funding applications, partnership agreements and research translation services.
  • Project facilitation and ongoing management.
  • Funding to support ideation, engagement and collaboration projects contributing to First Nations economic self-determination outcomes.

Gandaywarra Pillars

Community: Gandaywarra will first and foremost be first nations-led. In partnership with First Nations stakeholders, we will aim to embed traditional values of country, culture, community, and prosperity into all we do.
Knowledge: our work will foster the development of new skills and knowledge that will feed into policy making and evidence-based solution, to generate new and/or strengthened pathways for First Nations economic self-determination.
Business: Projects and activities supported by Gandaywarra will leverage the University’s influential connections and world class research capabilities, leading to the development of technologies, methodologies, and capabilities with First Nation’s entrepreneurs, country-based enterprises, emerging markets and the establishment and co-design of innovative ESG models.
Impact: Gandaywarra will be built on a circular and reciprocal system that aims to break the cycle of First Nations economic marginalisation and to provide more opportunities to First Nations People, industry, researchers and government in collaborating and generation impact. Our projects will be First Nations-led and establish innovate interdisciplinary project teams driving change.

Gandaywarra projects

  • Identification of a community and/or industry opportunity, through consultation and workshopping to understand the opportunity and context. Workshops include a wide range of industry stakeholders, end-users and research disciplines to explore the opportunity from different perspectives.
  • Opportunities are matched to capabilities at ANU and other research institutes, in order to test and validate opportunities.
  • A Project Team is created which must include First Nations representation and/or industry involvement and interdisciplinary researchers working collaboratively.
  • Gandaywarra will facilitate meetings to build relationships, establish common goals, and build engagement and support.
  • Gandaywarra assists with organising appropriate confidentiality and intellectual property documents, and supports teams to identify and commit to milestones.
  • Gandaywarra acts as a broker between stakeholders as the Project Team creates a funding proposal or agreement.
  • Gandaywarra continues to monitor the project so that it can address challenges as they arise, and for evaluation purposes.


Meet our team


Peter Yu

Professor Peter Yu AM


"Indigenous-advocate, Pragmatic-voice, Change-maker"

Professor Peter Yu AM is a Yawuru man from Broome in the Kimberley region in North West Australia with over 40 years’ experience in Indigenous development and advocacy in the Kimberley, and at the state, national and international levels.

As an advocate for the social, cultural and economic advancement and well-being of Kimberley and other Aboriginal communities for his entire career, Prof Yu has been instrumental in the development of many community-based organisations and initiatives which have had an enduring influence on the Kimberley region. He was Executive Director of the Kimberley Land Council, and a member of the national leadership team negotiating the Federal Government's response to the 1992 Mabo High Court judgement. Prof Yu was a key negotiator on behalf of the Yawuru Native Title Holders with the Western Australian Government, and recently was Chief Executive Officer of the Yawuru Corporate Group, he was the Chair of the Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) to the Northern Ministerial Forum on Northern Development. 

Prof Yu is the current inaugural Vice-President, First Nations Portfolio at the Australian National University. He is also deputy Chair of the Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, Board member of Watertrust Australia, Trustee of the Princes Trust Australia, a JANA Sustainability Advisory Council Member, and Chair of the Australian Advisory Group to Rio Tinto.

photo of Michelle Jasper

Michelle Jasper


"Commercialisation Aficionado, Appreciator of Indigenous Knowledges, IP Communicator"

Michelle is a Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngati Porou, Te Arawa woman and has over 13 years’ experience working in business development and research commercialisation. She drives activity relating to the intersection of western innovation, commercialisation, ventures and technological development with traditional Indigenous knowledge and practice.

Her academic background spans quantitative finance, marketing and applied cybernetics.

She is the Founder of Gandaywarra, the ANU First Nations Innovation Hub.

She was previously a non-executive Director of Cicada Innovations, Australia's leading incubator for startups and scaleups working on science and engineering innovations. She is currently a member of the Canberra Innovation Network’s Advisory Committee, wherein she offers strategic advice regarding the network’s overarching strategy, work plans and objectives.

Matt Heffernan

Matthew Heffernan

Senior Project Officer

"Coffee Lover, Coder, Optimist"

Matt is Luritja technologist from central Australia who has worked in various sectors from government, not for profits and private industry.

He is an alumni of the School of Cybernetics at ANU and is committed to ensuring that Indigenous people are up-skilled in, and don’t miss out on technological advancements, and economic development.

He is passionate about exploring the ways in which new technologies intersect with Indigenous culture and knowledge. As well as examining the ways in which culture can be expressed via emerging mediums. He also sometimes just love coding.

Irene Lemon

Irene Lemon

Business Development Manager

"Impact Maven, Venn Diagram fan, Storyteller"

Irene Lemon is a non-Indigenous woman from Coonabarabran, NSW. She brings entrepreneurship, social innovation, and creative artforms together to nurture interesting ideas and help Change-Makers sustain impact. She is an award-winning Start-up founder, a Country Music Comedian, a Business Development professional, and a program manager with experiences in facilitating incubation and acceleration of solutions in the Social Enterprise sector, the Aboriginal Economy, and the Arts sector. Irene is on the board of arts and social enterprise companies in both the ACT and NSW, and she has over 25 years’ experience working On Country and in partnership with Indigenous communities for social and creative outcomes.

Our teams & contacts


Contact details
Gandaywarra - First Nations Innovation