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Finalists move into next phase of Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards

The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards (MTIA) mentoring sessions have piqued the creativity of Sunshine Coast high school students as teams prepare to battle it out for the live pitch and awards ceremony to be held next month (July). 

The MTIA program, which is supported by Sunshine Coast Council and Telstra, helps develop business ideas that use innovation or technology in a new way to solve a community, environmental or business challenge.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said business leaders and innovators from local start-ups, USC, TAFE Queensland and creative and digital agencies played an important role in the MTIA program and the four recent mentor sessions.

“The calibre of mentors, the expertise and experience brought and shared with the 10 finalist teams will really help these students, from those ‘a-ha’ moments, to revisiting their concepts or plans with new insight to help them succeed,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“I wish them all the very best in their preparations for next month’s highly anticipated awards ceremony.”

Nine industry experts presented on one of the four start-up discussion topics to help guide and support the MTIA finalist teams at they continue to progress their concept and ideas for Phase 2 judging.

The line-up of mentors included:

  • Dominic Vrolijks – Maker in Residence at Sunshine Coast Maker Space
  • Matt Travers – Director, Sunny Digital
  • Neil Waldbaum – Owner, Deep Orange Design
  • Tara Jacobsen – Co-Founder and Program Director at Groei
  • Raphael McGowan – Founder of Bakslap
  • Ilana Boon – Manager, International Marketing & Recruitment, USC
  • Angela Lisle – Director of ICT and Digital, TAFE Queensland
  • Saskia De Klerk – Senior Lecturer in International Business, USC
  • Colin Graham – Managing Director at Causeway Innovation and Program Manager at Sunramp Healthtech Accelerator

The mentoring sessions followed the same methodology used to coach new companies through their start-up phase.

It was also a great opportunity to showcase how well the teams are progressing through the awards program with further developing their creative idea/concept.

The first mentoring workshop focused on finding product market fit using design thinking. 

CTO at Frontside Future Managing Director Daniel McKinnon said he was pleased to share his knowledge on how to make software projects a success as a guest presenter.

“I had a blast presenting to the finalists of the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards on how to create awesome technology projects in the best way,” Mr McKinnon said.

“It was so cool to see innovative ideas coming from the young entrants. Hopefully some of my gems will help.”

Phase 2 closed yesterday (June 21), with each of the 10 finalists confirming their submission with a detailed outline of their idea including photos and a two-to-three minute video for the evaluation panel to review and score.

Teams will now have three weeks to work towards final preparations for the live pitch and awards ceremony on July 14, when the Mayor and Telstra will also announce the Emerging Entrepreneur Award winner.


The finalist teams and schools include:

  • Origami Huts – Suncoast Christian College        
  • SeaShaw – Suncoast Christian College                
  • Jasveen-Kynnan – Mountain Creek State High school   
  • Bird Deterrent – Suncoast Christian College       
  • Sam And Kyle – Mountain Creek State High School      
  • JAJ  – Mountain Creek State High School           
  • Peas in a Pod – Chancellor State College           
  • MCSHS_Group_2 – Mountain Creek State High School
  • Type 1 World – Glasshouse Christian College    
  • ⭐️Star Solutions⭐️ – Matthew Flinders Anglican College         

MTIA Mentor and Guest Speaker profiles: https://www.studysunshinecoast.com.au/innovationawards/#mentors

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