Friday, 13 July 2018 11:09

Young entrepreneurs out to impress in Optus Future Makers program

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2018 Optus Future Makers finalists with their coaches 2018 Optus Future Makers finalists with their coaches

Seven finalists have been selected in the Optus Future Makers program for budding entrepreneurs, with a total of $300,000 in grant funding up for grabs.

Optus says this year’s shortlisted finalists are working on programs supporting employability, education, health, disability support, inclusion and diversity and domestic violence.

And in addition to a share of $300,000 in available grant funding, finalists will participate in a four-month Accelerator program to hone their skills through workshops and mentoring that focus on technology, customer experience, marketing strategies, project planning, financial modelling – and how to create a sustainable and successful social enterprise.

Each finalist will be individually coached and mentored by some of the brightest talent at Optus and learn from some of the best technology experts and leaders in the industry.

The Optus Future Makers program supports social entrepreneurs to develop innovative tech solutions that help solve social issues for disadvantaged and vulnerable people so they can have a better future.

John Paitaridis, managing director, Optus Business, said, “It’s exciting to see this year’s finalists leverage technology advancements to help those who are most needy in our communities.

“I am proud of our commitment to supporting innovation and social entrepreneurship, both through funding and access to our expert resources.

“Collaboration between established organisations and start-ups is critical to us harnessing innovation in Australia, and using innovation for social good is even more important.”

“The entire team at Optus is looking forward to working with this year’s finalists and to support the development of each solution as well as the development of these finalists as both professionals and individuals.”

The finalists will have the opportunity to pitch for funding to a panel of expert judges in October, with the panel made up of some of Australia’s most prominent names across technology, innovation, and social change.

The Optus Future Makers finalists are:

Rory Darkins, (NSW) – What’s Right – Thrive  is a life coach-in-your pocket. The app empowers users to become the best version of themselves and helps removes barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from accessing the support they need to thrive. What’s Right’s AI technology aims to remove this affordability barrier by delivering world-class coaching through a fully automated yet personalised virtual coach.

Chris Boyle, (QLD) – Commsync harnesses the power of technology to eliminate domestic violence connecting vulnerable community members to their safety network, through the push of a button.

Dr Stefan Schutt, (Vic) – vPlay is an online program that helps people with Autism who have trouble mastering social interaction and have difficulty finding jobs. vPlay provides people with Autism the necessary tools to practise both ‘people’ and ‘technical’ skills through simulated role plays with virtual characters, that can be accessed and edited via any Web browser.

Chris Smeed, (QLD) – ImmCalc is an application that automates complex immunisation schedules for refugees, migrants and others needing catch-up vaccines, making it easier to ensure that vulnerable patients are protected against preventable diseases.

Michael Tozer, (NSW) – Xceptional is a technology services firm which recognises the unique strengths of people with Autism such as pattern recognition, sustained concentration and precision that are closely aligned with IT roles.

Rick Martin, (NSW) – Equal Reality allows users to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand what it’s like to be discriminated or harassed” through virtual reality. Equal Reality provides computer generated, interactive scenarios to help people understand and help deliver diversity and inclusion training".

Michael Metcalfe (QLD) – Kynd is a mobile app-based solution that matches disadvantaged locals with professional needs based support. As individuals have specific requirements or preferences when being cared for, Kynd helps users find a perfect professional match based on personality, location, budget, interests, skills, training and experience.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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