Announcing the winners of The Big Idea 2017

5 December 2017 The Big Idea

Announcing the winners of The Big Idea 2017

An accessories label that employs refugee women, a business that uses 3D printing to create custom wheelchair tables and an initiative to preserve Indigenous culture have just been announced as the winners of our national university competition, The Big Idea!

For the first time in The Big Idea’s history, there were two undergraduate winners – the Bawurra Foundation and A Tech You.

Above: Luka, Jesse and Jordan from the Bawurra Foundation, Macquarie University

The Bawurra Foundation from Macquarie University is a social business that helps to preserve Indigenous culture and boost Indigenous literacy rates. Higher-SES schools are charged a subscription fee to access cultural resources, which is used to support lower-SES schools and schools with high Indigenous enrolment.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at PwC Melbourne on Tuesday evening, team representative Jesse Slok said, “Winning The Big Idea provides validation of our idea, that we’re on the path to success. The next step is expanding, scaling up – we’re looking to partner with 30 schools next year, so it will be an exciting 12 months for us.”

Above: Chelsea Xu from A Tech You, CQ University

A Tech You, from CQ University, uses 3D printing to create custom wheelchair tables. The business provides 3D printing training and potential employment to people with disability.

Chelsea Xu said, “I enjoyed the journey and I learned so much, combining nursing and business. I hoping to work with industrial partners on the production to make a product that is marketable and benefits people with disability.”

Above: Stephanie Huang from Homegirls, Monash University

Homegirls, from Monash University, is the postgraduate winner. The social enterprise employs refugee women to make high-end accessories that appeal to the Australian fashion market.

Stephanie Huang said, “The Big Idea process has really pushed me to do so much work for Homegirls, to get it to where it is now. We are doing our first project in December and hoping to launch in January next year.”

The winners were selected from nine finalist teams who spent Tuesday pitching their ideas to a judging panel of Australian business leaders.

Big Issue vendors and classroom guest speakers also weighed in on the decision, providing a ‘social enterprise employee’ perspective.

All finalists will spend a professional emersion day at PwC Melbourne, and each winner received a prize back and will also have an emersion day at The Big Issue.


Above: Big Idea guests, judges and winners. Back row, from left: Nigel Dalton (REA Group), Cheryl Kernot (Centre for Social Impact and judge), Tracey Kennair (PwC and judge), Stephen Persson (The Big Issue CEO and judge), Kris Neill (Kris Neill Consulting and judge) and Sonya Clancy (The Big Issue chairman). Front row: Competition winners Chelasea, Luka, Jesse, Jordan and Stephanie.

Winners aside, The Big Idea is an important opportunity to educate and engage the next generation of social entrepreneurs. The judges said many ideas have the potential to become viable businesses.

We’d like to say a big thank you to all the teams who took part in The Big Idea 2017 from our 13 participating universities!

Find out how to get involved in The Big Idea 2018.

Vendor profile