Entrepreneurs of tomorrow take charge at [email protected] Innovation Challenge

Up to 70 year nine students from around the Logan and Redlands regions will take part in the second annual [email protected]an Innovation Challenge this month, giving them the chance to hone their entrepreneurial abilities by drawing on the realms of both business and science in order to address topical health issues.

Held from 28-30 November at Griffith’s Logan campus, the challenge encourages 17 young teams to employ an entrepreneurial mindset combined with the principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to solve problems in the health field, Logan campus Innovation Project Officer Ms Celeste Alcaraz said.

“The challenge is about inspiring and creating, but mostly about learning across the disciplines and enjoyment,” Ms Alcaraz said.

“Students can learn about entrepreneurial thinking and topical health-related issues, engage in human-centred design, and employ creativity.”

The competition’s participants will be introduced to health and aged-care issues on the first day, culminating with an intensive brainstorming exercise. On day two, the teams will move to the GLO STEM Hub to learn about human-centred design and create prototypes of their solutions using 3D printers, robotics and coding, before pitching their finished solution on the final day.

[email protected] will encourage business and STEM as a choice field of education, build confidence, build networks, and provide its participants with the chance to immerse in a collaborative environment with Griffith students and staff, regional entrepreneurs and industry, Ms Alcaraz explained.

“The future will reward those with the creativity, initiative, and the risk tolerance to create an employment future for themselves.”

Although innately scientific, Ms Alcaraz said that the entrepreneurial aspect of the challenge is a fundamental one, the concept having been shaped around consumer preferences and built by undertaking research with business and STEM high-school teachers to understand their needs and the unique attributes of students in the region, as well as drawing on the expertise of Griffith business academics, past feedback and industry insights.

“Business is necessary to develop enterprise skills moving forward,” she said. “This year, RhD student Gemma Bierman is assessing the GLO Challenge to encourage the stance for entrepreneurship studies as a mandatory in the Australian Curriculum.”

Professor Evan Douglas (pictured left), the Director of the Yunus Social Business Centre, echoed Ms Alcaraz’s sentiments regarding the importance of infusing the challenge with a fundamentally business-driven ethos.

“It is really satisfying to see young minds thinking entrepreneurially, and going outside the square to create new product ideas, new business models, and new technologies,” he said. “The future will reward those with the creativity, initiative, and the risk tolerance to create an employment future for themselves.”

Following the success of last year’s inaugural challenge, the 2017 [email protected] event has seen an increase in interest and support from local social and educational bodies as well as mentoring involvement from the national science and technology centre, Questacon.

World-leading rehabilitation-and-disabilities research institution The Hopkins Centre has also joined the challenge’s mentors, the ranks of which also include social and industrial enterprises such as Substation33, Global Sisters, ENABLE, LifeTec, Konica Minolta and the Department of Education and Training.