What’s NEXT? Leading employers and universities collaborate on massive innovation accelerator training program

27 May 2016: Executives from CSIRO, Deloitte, IAG and Westpac were today excited with the quality of the ideas pitched to them at the grand final for ‘NEXT. ‘NEXT’ is a massive student innovation accelerator training program between Universities and business. More than 250 students and 50 mentors collaborated to develop pitches for startups, business and public good innovations to make a positive impact for Australia. ‘NEXT’ aims to deliver technology innovation training and mentoring for thousands of students from partner universities including the University of Sydney, QUT, UTS, Swinburne and the University of South Australia.

Following an intensive, 12 week, ‘Lean Launchpad’ program coupled with mentoring from industry and startups, winning concepts in Queensland and NSW were ‘Giftmaster’, a startup pitch for a platform catering to Chinese tourists shopping in Australia from QUT, and ‘GoKoala’, a kids financial savings app for Westpac from the University of Sydney. Other finalists pitched concepts around bluetooth tracking for tools, capability development for not for profits, mobile health pharmaceutical management, a peer to peer international logistics platform, a biodegradable plastics solution for agriculture and an in store scanning and personalized shopping solution.

CSIRO Executive Director of Services, Dr Marcus Zipper said that: “NEXT aims to engage the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs and innovators; linking them with the great technologies available in CSIRO and our universities, and exposing them to the needs and interests of customers and investors. We want this program to equip more of our future workforce with the skills to create and reinvent high-technology industries and companies – whether that be as entrepreneurs, or intrapreneurs.”

Simon Gautherin, from the winning University of Sydney Masters of Management team said, “The process was tough and after watching the other pitches, we were nervous. I’m really happy we practiced a lot and kept driving forward. I’d say positive energy is what it took to win because it’s a challenging process to go through – thankfully our mentors from Westpac were there to support us right through to the end”. Other team members included: Cristina Di Vincenzoo, Shiwei Yang, Yifei Wu and team mentors were Arnie Meier and Danny Tan from Westpac.

NEXT is an innovative development and is offered as a cross-disciplinary unit of study at participating universities and is supported and organised by Sydney edtech startup Intersective. Intersective’s Practera ‘project learning’ platform helps all parties collaborate and stay on track – delivering thousands of datapoints to enhance learning, track performance and improve outcomes.

John Meacock, Chief Strategy Officer for Deloitte, added: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting program at Deloitte. We are absolutely committed to helping Australia’s businesses, government and universities build ideas for a better Australia. Collaboration and innovation are the ways we will make this happen. And ‘NEXT’ is a great multi-party initiative to build the innovation skills and potential necessary to ensure a vibrant and successful future for Australia.”

Siyu Wu, a University of Sydney student who completed a pilot version of the program, is now employed as an international advisor in CSIRO’s ‘global’ team and is now a NEXT program mentor. She said: “Taking part in the program was an incredibly valuable learning experience. We had many ideas that failed before we came up with a more robust concept and won. That experience sparked a passion for innovation in me, and has led me to becoming part of Australia’s leading scientific organisation and a job I absolutely love.”

Beau Leese, the creator of NEXT and co-founder & CEO of Intersective, articulated the value of the program: “Large scale collaboration between universities and business can often be really difficult to do well. NEXT’ is trying to create a ‘user-friendly’ program for universities and businesses to collaborate with energetic and talented student teams in a very structured and efficient way. We want to lift the innovation skills of thousands of students and industry participants every year.”

 

Background information

NEXT responds to some big trends and calls in the innovation, collaboration and employment landscape in Australia;

  • A Chief Scientist’s October 2015 report into entrepreneurship training in universities, found examples of great University programs, but overall too few applied entrepreneurship programs operating at large scale, and called for a greater focus in this area.
  • Australia faces a key innovation challenge on university business collaboration, a significant indicator of innovation. Work integrated learning collaboration is a great way to boost these rates. In 2015, peak industry and university groups including the BCA and Universities Australia co-launched strategies to boost rates of work integrated learning in Australia
  • Recent reports have highlighted the only certainty in the future of work is uncertainty, change and adaptation, with up to 47% of current jobs under threat from automation and other new technologies combined with historically high rates of youth unemployment. The Foundation for Young Australians estimates that 60% of Australian university students are training for jobs that will not exist in the future.

 

For more information, please see www.intersective.com/NEXT

NEXT Finals Winners Go Koala_160527

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