ANU student startups share $50,000 InnovationACT grant pool

22 October 2019

A platform enabling community ownership of rooftop solar, and another providing scenario-based training for more effective upskilling of workers, were two of five student startups from The Australian National University (ANU) recognised at the InnovationACT 2019 Awards Night ceremony over the weekend.

The teams will share $50,000 worth of grants and other startup support, to help further develop their ventures. The awards were the culmination of the teams' participation in InnovationACT, an intensive ten-week entrepreneurship program from ANU, where they were each challenged to develop innovative venture ideas through the support of workshops, mentorship and public pitching events.

Grant-recipient Elvis Gleeson, Co-Founder of Gleeson and Seeber and Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons) student at ANU, felt the program complemented his undergraduate studies.

"I've always been a huge fan of extracurricular activities offered by ANU. Especially coming from the humanities, there aren't always the pathways to apply your learnings in practical situations, and InnovationACT was an excellent opportunity to do that," says Elvis.

"We're very thankful to have been awarded the grant money, which will allow us to create more value and really hone in on aspects of our venture. The funding is a nice way to cap off the journey so far and to start us off on the many steps ahead."

Gleeson and Seeber was one of over 70 student teams from across Canberra who participated in this year's InnovationACT cohort, the program's biggest year in its 12-year history at ANU.

"We were incredibly impressed by the breadth of innovative ideas in this year's program, many of which were addressing major societal and environmental issues facing the world today," said Vicki Stanley, InnovationACT Program Manager.

"It was also fantastic to see grant recipients representing all seven ANU Colleges, proving that the entrepreneurship culture amongst our students is thriving across the University."

InnovationACT collaborates with and complements other innovation initiatives, both within the University, such as ANU MakerSpace, Square One student co-working space, TechLauncher and the CBE Venture Lab, but also with other key stakeholders in Canberra's innovation ecosystem, to help expose students to the other support programs and networks available to them beyond the program and their studies.

"We have been able to make some great connections in the innovation community and we'll certainly be taking advantage of those to help grow our venture," reflects grant-recipient Mark McAnulty, Co-Founder of Solar Campus and current Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Bachelor of Commerce student.

Mark hopes the funding will allow his team to realise their broader vision for their venture, to penetrate a larger number of communities around Australia with their community energy solution.

"Our vision is to be able to roll this platform out to a number of communities, including ones that don't have the existing community leaders driving these kids of activities," says Mark.

"There are a lot of people out there passionate about the tackling climate change, but don't know how they can get involved. We want to give them the tools they need to feel empowered to make change and create real impact in their own communities."

Professor Keith Nugent, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at ANU, praised the students for their involvement in such entrepreneurial pathways.

"Student experiences like InnovationACT are a great opportunity for the next generation of innovators to learn more about the ecosystem," said Professor Nugent.

"I congratulate the grant recipients on behalf of the University and wish them the best as they look to take the next steps with their ideas."

Congratulations to the grant recipients:

  • ConSenses Events: The team aims to address social isolation in Canberra's ageing population, by holding regular skills-share markets for the elderly to interact with the community.
  • Gleeson and Seeber: The team is targeting the skills-shortage, by developing scenario-based learning to allow businesses to train their workers more effectively.
  • RescoIO: The team has developed an open-source tool aimed at optimising the use, reuse, remaking and recycling of manufactured products.
  • Solar Campus: The team has created a platform that enables fractional ownership of community rooftop solar.
  • Two Step Tommy: The team is developing data-driven generative graphics to help businesses build stronger brands and increase engagement with customers.

For more information about InnovationACT and for the full list of award recipients, visit innovationact.org.