After 11 years of hosting tech gurus, artists and creatives, Pause Fest has announced that it is cancelled indefinitely.
The independent festival provided the Australian tech community networking opportunities and innovative product launches, but the business event will no longer continue due to economic strain.
George Hedon, Founder and CEO of Pause Festival Australia has lamented the difficulty of creating a festival during the current uncertainty of the pandemic alongside the lack of support from the Victorian Government.
“It’s never been a better time to innovate – we have never had more venture capital in Australia. Yet it has never been the worst time to organise a tech festival in Victoria,” Hedon said.
Hedon argues that the event had been difficult to sustain due to lack of ongoing business support in Victoria.
“The bigger the festival got, the harder it has been to grow and move forward. However, once you scale a festival to a certain size, you need to have strategic partnerships with the government and corporate worlds to go on – all of whom are committed to the same vision and willing to provide long-term support. This commitment, unfortunately, is something I have not been able to get in this state, no matter how hard I try.”
Previously, the festival had hosted product launches from small start-ups to established international brands like Dropbox, Adobe and IBM. The event had previously been held at Federation Square and speakers over the years ranged from BBC and Netflix to NASA senior scientists.
The business event aimed to be at the forefront of innovation as the first festival in Australia to showcase VR content and premiered the first Tesla Model S. The social impact of the festival for the Victorian economy is estimated at $170 million.
Due to the event restrictions of COVID, Pause Fest 2020 became a two-week online experience and the festival had to sell thousands of tickets at reduced prices. George Hedon said that he had contacted the Prime Minister and the Victorian Premier this year asking for support for the business event but had yet to receive a response.
“If done right, tech events in the US or EU can grow to 20,000 attendees in three to five years, but it has taken me eleven years to reach 3,000 in this marketplace,” Hedon said. “I’m open to moving the ‘Innovation Capital’ to another state, or even to a different country. But there needs to be a long-term strategic commitment with proper funding in place for the entire ecosystem to win.”
Photos: Pause Fest