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Innovation challenge finalists link with mentors to take their ideas to the next level

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The Sunshine Coast’s young entrepreneurs and creators are rising to the challenge at an annual innovation competition.

Student teams from a range of local schools have pitched their ideas – including a unique ocean cleaner, a fix for the housing crisis, ‘Fundies’ underpants that help the injured and elderly, and more – as part of the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards.

Finalists have been selected and now have the opportunity to further develop their innovative concepts and business solutions, with the support of local industry mentors and specialists.

More than 12 mentors are supporting the students. These include Manufacturing Excellence founding director Tim Kelly, Sunshine Coast Maker Space founder Dominic Vrolijks, Creative Collective founder Yvette Adams, TAFE Queensland’s Illana Boom and Saskia De Klerk from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast mayor Rosanna Natoli, who was on the judging panel, said she was impressed by the calibre of ideas.

“From mobile ocean cleaning devices to self-sorting recycling bins utilising artificial intelligence, there was an impressive mix of ideas that can truly help make a positive impact to our region,” she said.

The judging panel of Groei Education program director Tara Jacobsen, mayor Rosanna Natoli, council head of business and industry development Tim McGee and Telstra group owner digitisation Brent McArthur.

“The awards present a rare opportunity for student teams to bring their creative ideas or business solution to life and I’m looking forward to seeing these develop with the support of our amazing mentors.

“Whether they made it through to the next stage or not, I thank these students for their confidence to apply, and I encourage them to keep participating in programs like this to help them realise their dreams.”

Telstra group owner digitisation Brent McArthur said he was also impressed with the range of out-of-the-box thinking from the entrants.

“We saw quality ideas that could have a real positive impact on people’s lives and our environment,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see how the concepts evolve through some structured and targeted mentoring over the coming month.”

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After mentoring, each team will put forward a second submission, with all finalists invited to participate in a live pitch and awards ceremony on June 20 for their chance to win more than $10,000 in shared prizes.

Sunshine Coast Council has partnered with Telstra and Study Sunshine Coast to deliver the awards exclusively to Year 9 to Year 12 students within the region.

The awards is a key initiative of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 and aims to foster innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people in the region.


Glasshouse Christian College: Fundies (Functional undies for the disabled, immobile or elderly), Room Ready (A unique digital platform connecting consumers to retailers with a personalised shopping experience), SAF3 (A new safety indication system for firearms).

Immanuel Lutheran College: Block by Block (A sustainable housing and rental solution utilising decommissioned shipping containers), WongariWard (An ultrasonic dingo repellent bracelet), Sustainable Sorts (A self-sorting recycling bin bristling with technology).

Matthew Flinders Anglican College: Reality Check (A unique online platform for secondary students with educational resources for real-world preparation).

Mountain Creek State High School: DAN (A mountable pod attached to boats to passively collect floating waste), Safety Assurance (AR and VR program developed to train users in manufacturing safety protocols).

Suncoast Christian College: Think Pad (A controlled learning tool to assist teachers in classrooms), Auzzie Mozzie Mister (A safe and environmentally friendly spray application system to ward off mosquitos), Power Perch (A wireless mobile computer charging device and storage dock).

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