Dick Smith, who has become as well-known for his outlandish media stunts as he is for his entrepreneurial activities, is offering a $1 million prize for an innovator to tackle a rather complex issue – population.
With Australia’s population passing 23 million this week, Smith is increasingly agitating for action to combat our “population and consumption growth-obsessed economy”.
However, Dick is keeping his powder dry. After launching his Wilberforce Award – for someone under the age of 30 to come up with a solution to perennial growth – in 2010, Smith has declined to hand out the $1 million in prize money.
No one has come up with a good enough idea, according to Smith. Perhaps surprisingly, he feels that teen conservationist Bindi Irwin has come closest to landing the cash.
Thankfully, there are plenty of easier competitions for start-ups to enter, rather than Dick’s population bounty.
Here are five of the best that are ideal for various types of Australian ventures.
1. Startup Weekend
Dubbed the ‘world’s largest start-up competition’, Startup Weekend has spread rapidly across Australia since arriving on our shores in 2011.
Events are now regularly held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, with the latter city becoming the latest to join the party last year.
The concept is pleasingly simple. Entrepreneurs turn up to a gathering, are grouped into teams and have 54 hours to devise and create a new business.
These hastily-conceived ideas are then pitched to a panel of judges. The winner walks away with $5000 but, more importantly, access to further mentoring and opportunities – such as a spot in a Singapore incubator.
As the Startup Weekend website promises, “Whether you launch a successful start-up, find a co-founder, meet someone new or learn a skill far outside your usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave Startup Weekend better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of start-ups.”
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