- Seven digital innovators wowed judges with a three minute pitch, landing them up to $50,000 each to make their innovative ideas become a reality.
- Winning ideas included a telepresence robot and software to help teachers ‘gamify’ their classrooms.
- Judging panel included Global Social Entrepreneur, Geoff Gourley, and Group Founder of Thankyou, Daniel Flynn.
- Future Makers is a new program launched by Optus to foster digital innovation that has the ability to change the social landscape.
Eleven emerging digital and social influencers stepped into the spotlight yesterday at the Optus Future Makers event to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of experts. The innovators had just 180 seconds each to secure their share of the $300,000 funding pot and six walked away with enough financial backing to bring their bold ideas to life.
The inaugural Optus Future Makers program, launched earlier this year, is designed to foster digital innovation that has the ability to change the social landscape. Prominent names across technology, innovation and social change – including Global Social Entrepreneur, Geoff Gourley, and Group Founder of Thankyou, Daniel Flynn – joined forces to form the experienced judging panel. After a tense pitching process in front of an audience at the Optus Campus in Sydney, just seven of the 11 finalists were crowned this year’s Future Makers, and awarded $50,000 grants.
Future Makers Winners:
Colin Jowell, Parramatta, Sydney – ‘Guide Dots’ enables young people with vision impairment to independently discover the world around them and to engage with their social environment just like their sighted friends and peers.
Penny Harnett, Newcastle, NSW – ‘iWareness’ app will provide information to young people of both genders to help them recognise, respond to and change attitudes towards domestic violence.
Marita Cheng, Richmond, Melbourne – ‘Teleport’ an affordable and beautiful telepresence robot which allows young people with a spinal cord injury or debilitating disease to attend school or participate in the workforce by working remotely.
Marina Paronetto, Middle Park, Melbourne – ‘Biz’ is a peer-to-peer mobile app designed to give teenage girls – of all backgrounds – an equal opportunity to learn about business and enhance their confidence, skill set and employability.
Dr Rowan Tulloch, Rozelle, Sydney – ‘The Game Change’ software helps university and school teachers gamify their classrooms to better engage and motivate students. It also assists students who are marginalised by traditional teaching practices.
Following a unanimous decision by the judging panel, two finalists who pitched separately were offered $50,000 funding to share if they agreed to collaborate and bring their ideas to life as a single innovation:
Brian Collyer, Milton, Brisbane – The ‘Wellbeing Coach’ app/web portal gives young people’s access to information and resources and uses technology to enhance communication in the counsellor-client relationship.
Rhianon Vichta, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane – ‘New Futures for Young People’ is an accessible and integrated online platform that promotes and measures beneficial wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable young people.
Paul O’Sullivan, Future Makers Judge and Optus Chairman, said, “This program is about helping Australia’s innovators to make a positive social impact through the use of technology. We know how important technology is in people’s daily lives, and with Future Makers we are specifically targeting projects that will benefit marginalised and vulnerable youth.”
Optus Corporate Affairs
02 8082 7850
About Future Makers
Future Makers is a new program launched by Optus to foster digital innovation and bring to life bold ideas that have the ability to change the social landscape.
It supports entrepreneurs, social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations with innovative technological ideas that help address the challenges faced by vulnerable young Australians across employability, education, cyber education & safety and wellbeing.
Future Makers Panel:
Daniel Flynn – Group Co-founder of Thank You, a social enterprise that uses 100% of the profits made from water, food and body care products to fund safe water, food and hygiene and sanitation services around the world
Geoff Gourley – Social enterprise entrepreneur, investor and Founder of One10, a Melbourne accelerator and incubator dedicated to social enterprise startups
Jan Owen – CEO, Foundation for Young Australians
Paul O’Sullivan – Optus Chairman