Geraldton’s future innovators wowed a roomful of international movers and shakers at the Young Innovator Competition, held as part of the Geraldton component of the West Tech Fest on Friday the 8th of December. Five primary and high school finalists presented to a star-studded line-up of judges from the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Judges included former Google Director of Product Management and Chief Technology Officer for Hillary Clinton Stephanie Hannon, as well as international venture capitalist Bill Tai, founder and CEO of CoinCircle Erick Miller, founder and CEO of World Identity Network Mariana Dahan, Facebook Director of Manufacturing Operations and Quality Paul Herz, Acting US Ambassador to Australia James Carouso and US Consul General Rachel Cooke.
The finalists pitched ideas on making Geraldton a ‘Smart City’ which improves lives and the environment while also encouraging human connection. Then, in the style of Shark Tank TV, the finalists fielded answers from the judges about their ideas. Regional Development Australia Mid West Gascoyne Executive Officer Alan Bradley said the students had experienced an incredible opportunity to share their ideas with world-class innovators.
“Imagine being a kid and presenting to top level staff who’ve worked with Google and Facebook, not to mention the US Ambassador to Australia,” Mr Bradley said. “That’s exactly what our finalists achieved and we’re so proud of their efforts.”
In the lead up to the event, the finalists were schooled by Geraldton’s Jenna Denton, to create a poster which encapsulated the essence of their ideas.
They then attended a workshop with Geraldton’s innovation hub Pollinators, to learn the art of the elevator pitch. Pollinators Spaces Lead Angie West said it was gratifying to see Geraldton’s young people stepping up as future innovators.
“It was exciting for us to be involved with these young innovators and help them develop the skills to pitch their big idea – after all these young people are our future,” Mrs West said. “It was also interesting to note they were all female in a space normally dominated by young males.”
First place in the Year 5/6 category was a tie between Willow Panter from Leaning Tree Community School, who presented an idea to create bio-energy for the home through the use of kitchen scraps, and Clancy Hann from Geraldton Grammar School, who proposed using the Pokemon concept to encourage education about, and visitation to, Geraldton’s historic sites.
Nagle Catholic College’s Ava Williams won the Year 7/8 category for her compost collection idea in which householders would provide green waste, and receive it back as compost. The runner up in this category was Eithne Childs from John Willcock College who proposed the creation of community buses to house homeless people.
A team comprising Danielle Radford and Joanne Matthews from John Willcock won the Year 9/10 category with their pitch for an app called Easy As Recycling, which would bring together all the information about Geraldton’s recycling points, opening times and availability into a single app. West Tech Fest was brought to Geraldton thanks to Progress Mid West, Regional Development Australia Mid West Gascoyne, Mid West Development Commission, Iluka and Pollinators, supported by funding from the US Embassy.
Thank you Regional Development Australia – Midwest Gascoyne for the above article! For more information, please visit their website: http://www.rdamwg.com.au/young-innovator-competition.html