Brisbane universities host world-first challenge

Ripples of water as water poured into pool.
Water reform will be the topic of discussion at ARI's public lecture on Monday.

Queensland’s three Brisbane-based universities, QUT, the University of Queensland (UQ), and Griffith University, will host the G20 Global Business Challenge which, with both federal and Queensland Government support, is set to become a cornerstone event in the G20 program.

The G20 Global Business Challenge (GBC) will be staged at QUT’s Gardens Point campus in November.

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said the G20 GBC was a world-first event that would bring together teams comprising graduate students, industry members and researchers to compete to develop innovative solutions to water scarcity, a problem worldwide.

“This is Australia’s first case competition and with winning-team prize money of $100,000 the G20 GBC will lift Brisbane’s international profile both as a business and education destination,” he said.

“The G20 GBC will become an annual event, ensuring Brisbane prominence on the international business case competition calendar.

“Linking the event to the G20 will ensure the challenge focuses on developing solutions to global problems.”

Professor Coaldrake said water scarcity, the business challenge theme, aligned perfectly with the 2014 G20 economic development agenda.

“Water is an impediment to health and wellbeing in poverty stricken developing nations and a constraint to economic development in developed economies,” he said.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the GBC would identify emerging knowledge leaders from a variety of nations, and channel their talents towards innovations in sustainable water use and management that will have widespread applications.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for highly-skilled graduate students, technologists and researchers to collaborate on proposals that will withstand proof-of-concept testing and will potentially assist communities worldwide,” Professor Høj said.

“We anticipate that many of the competitors will be motivated by a passion to serve society and the environment, but it can also be said that they will stand to gain funding, profile and connections that are likely to fuel their personal and professional success.”

The G20 GBC seeks competitors with innovative ideas meeting three specific objectives:

  • Create proposed solutions delivering benefit to transform one or more water-reliant industry sectors such as resources, agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure.
  • Create the design of novel solutions (combining new technologies, innovative business and financial models) for large scale and global implementation.
  • Identify mechanisms for pilot funding of a proposed solution for demonstration in a developing country.

Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the challenge had particular relevance to Australia where the resources and extractive mining industries, such as coal mines and coal seam gas extraction, faced significant water challenges.

“Resources and extractive mining industries are based in rural and regional Australia and often use vast quantities of water that need treatment to meet environmental standards as well as the need for large water storage capacity,” he said.

“To date, no single technological solution has been found to the water treatment problem faced by these industries but when one is it will open up opportunities for the development of new agricultural-based industries.”

The project, supported by the Queensland Government, will be judged by industry and government representatives as well as two B20 executives. The B20, a meeting of national and international business leaders, will be held in Brisbane just prior to the G20 Summit.

The finalists of the G20 Global Business Challenge will be announced on August 15 with judging and presentations being held from November 3 culminating in a gala dinner and awards event on November 6, 2014.

The competition is expected to attract teams from non G20, as well as G20 nations.

More information on the G20 Global Business Challenge can be found at

View Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s message of support here (Video is being uploaded onto the g20gbc website on Wednesday)

Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media team leader, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901 [email protected]