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Optus Sparks Search for Technology Innovators

19 April 2018 at 7:50 am
Secure a share of $300,000 and coaching to help your innovative solution become reality.

Contributor | 19 April 2018 at 7:50 am


Optus Sparks Search for Technology Innovators
19 April 2018 at 7:50 am

Secure a share of $300,000 and coaching to help your innovative solution become reality.

Calling all people who ideate, innovate and collaborate. Digital innovations have the potential to make the world better, smarter and happier as well as transform industries. Optus has launched the 2018 Future Makers program, supporting Australia’s start-up and not-for-profit sectors which help create positive social change for vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.

Applications are now open and close on Friday 18 May via the Future Makers website.

Future Makers is a capacity building and accelerator program that empowers innovators who use technology to address social challenges for vulnerable people. The program is seeking innovative working prototype technology solutions in the following focus areas: Employability, Education, Health, and Empowering Women and Girls.

Successful applicants will join other innovators to enhance their social start-up, impact and tech expertise, network and pitch from a pool of up to $300,000 in funding. They will be coached by top talent at Optus and receive technology guidance and insights from industry experts. There will be an opportunity for participants to polish their business case and perfect their pitch before presenting to a panel of judges representing different sectors.

The four-month accelerator program kicks off in June, and through eight days of in-person workshops plus webinars up until early October, finalists will develop their skills and knowledge on a range of topics. These include technology, customer experience, marketing strategies, project planning, financial modelling and importantly how to create a sustainable and successful social enterprise.

Helen Maisano, director of group sustainability at Optus, said this year’s selection panel was looking for applications from tech innovators whose solution would support beneficiaries in regional and remote areas of Australia and/or metropolitan cities, and those who are looking to make a positive difference in their community through the power of technology.

“Future Makers is open to ideas that provide technological solutions in not only our major cities but also from those who have a passion for improving livelihoods in regional and remote Australia,” Ms Maisano said.

“The program is designed to give applicants who are on the cusp of developing or have a working prototype solution an opportunity to build on their skills and provide networking opportunities to help reach their goals.”

In 2017, Future Makers focused on how innovation can help vulnerable youth and seven people took part in program. Watch the videos on the Future Makers website to find out more about the program.

The finalists each pitched their idea to a panel of judges, including CEO of World Vision Australia Claire Rogers, The Big Issue CEO Steven Persson, Grace Mutual CEO Andrew Tyndale and managing director of Optus Business John Paitaridis.

The innovators shared in $300,000 to help make their solutions become a reality. Examples of the finalists that received funding include: “sameview”, an app which would enable multiple people involved in a disabled child’s care to share information efficiently, and “Virtual Psychologist” which offers mental health services via text message.

Each of the finalists were coached for four months, and two were also selected to attend the 2017 Singtel Group Future Makers Program.

In 2018, Optus is seeking innovative technology solutions that help solve issues for disadvantaged and vulnerable people within any of the following focus areas:

Employability: Improve people’s ability to be job-ready or to get ahead with future career options. For example, removing barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from accessing training or employment opportunities.

Education: Improve education outcomes or close education gaps for disadvantaged or vulnerable people. For example, supporting young people to stay engaged in school or removing barriers to them completing their education.

Health: Address health concerns in Australia, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes; improve livelihoods and support people with a disability; address domestic and family violence; or, improve people’s mental wellbeing with access to vital services.

Empowering women and girls: Address inequality that women and girls experience in their lives that can limit their choices and opportunities. For example, empowering women to build skills and solutions to start or join a business; and, seeing more girls in STEM-related education and/or jobs.

For more information on Future Makers, including the online application form, visit the Future Makers website.

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