Meet The Big Idea finalists for 2017

4 December 2017 The Big Idea

Meet The Big Idea finalists for 2017

The finals of The Big Idea competition for 2017 are taking place very soon. Nine finalist teams will pitch their social enterprise ideas to the high-profile panel of judges tasked with deciding the winners.

This year’s competition has been our biggest yet with more than 145 university teams submitting their plans for social enterprises and social businesses that could become the next Big Issue. 

Each participating university selected a team for the semi-finals, and following a rigorous judging process six undergraduate and three postgraduate teams were chosen to compete in the finals.

While the big ideas range from coffee carts to hemp farming to 3D printing, they all seek tackle an area of disadvantage.

Like The Big Issue, many of the finalists focus on creating employment opportunities for people who face disadvantage, including refugees, women who have experienced domestic violence, Indigenous youth and people with disability.

Above: A team presents to the judges during last year's Big Idea competition. 


Undergraduate Finalists 2017


The Ark

Brooke Archer, Rachel Webb and Amy Voglis

Australian Catholic University

A refuge where women who have experienced domestic violence can stay with their pets. The refuge runs pet-related services, such as animal grooming, to generate an income.


A Tech You

Xueqing (Chelsea) Xu

CQ University

A social business in Mackay that uses 3D printing to create custom wheelchair tables. The business provides training in 3D printing to people with disability, as well as potential employment opportunities.


Two Birds One Scone

Abd-Alrahman Shehada, Daniel Vlahek, Caleb Chui, Jack Connole and Melissa Lee

La Trobe University

Supporting the existing student-run food rescue operation on campus, the social enterprise charges for food collection services, while providing work for disadvantaged people.


Bawurra Foundation

Jesse Slok, Jordan Simpson, Ray Xu and Luka Olic

Macquarie University

A social business that helps to preserve Indigenous culture and boost Indigenous literacy rates by compiling online learning materials about Indigenous culture. The business charges higher SES schools a subscription fee to access resources and distributes resources and tablet computers free of charge to lower SES schools and schools with high Indigenous enrolment.


Fugee Coffee

Ka Wei (Michelle) Ku, Genevieve Paxinos, Brydie Siryj, Karina Aguirre, Wen Ng and Kertna Thamaraja

University of Melbourne

A coffee cart on campus at the University of Melbourne that provides skills training and part-time employment to refugees.



Katherine Clark, Wendy Purton, Bojana Cirkovic and Yuzhen Wang

Victoria University

A social enterprise that grows industrial hemp near Mildura, providing work opportunities to disadvantaged local Indigenous youth.


Postgraduate Finalists 2017



Stephanie Huang

Monash University

A social enterprise employing refugee women to make high-end accessories that appeal to the Australian fashion market.


Flowers That Matter

Marco Regis

Swinburne University

A social enterprise providing opportunities for women who have experienced domestic violence to cultivate, grow and sell flowers online.


Upcycled Fashion Studios

Zichen Yang, Yuxin Li, Haochun Wu and Glorese Latosa


Running upcycled fashion tutorials for the public, Upcycle Fashion Studios also employs disadvantaged people to help run the design studio.


On 5 December the nine finalist teams will spend the day at PwC in Melbourne pitching their ideas to a judging panel made up of Australian business leaders and social entrepreneurs.

The winners will be announced at an awards evening following the finals. Check back to find out the big idea of 2017.

Find out more about The Big Idea.

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