Innovators offered $70k prize pot for bright ideas

Start-ups are being invited enter the Innovation Challenge for the chance to share in $70,000, with categories covering everything from high-tech design to backyard innovation.


The Innovation Challenge, launched by The Australian in association with Shell, is supported by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.


With nine cash prizes up for grabs, the awards are designed to drive some of the nation’s best ideas to commercialisation or adoption.


The awards are open to both individuals and teams. They recognise innovation for the public good as well as breakthroughs with commercial potential, and environmental sustainability is a judging criterion in all categories.


An expert panel of leaders in government, academe and industry has been assembled to judge the entries and determine the winner.


Professional categories, each worth $5,000, include the environment, health, agriculture and food, minerals and energy, manufacturing and high-tech design, ICT and education.


The overall winner will receive a further $25,000.


Meanwhile, the Backyard Innovation category is open to the general public, with the winner taking out a $10,000 prize.


This category covers inventions that that are not yet on the market but are at an advanced stage, typically with a prototype. Inventions range from domestic appliances to new technology for the agriculture and construction sectors.


According to Innovation Minister Kim Carr, Australia has less than 0.5% of the world’s population yet it produces more than 3% of its new research.


“Our capacity to negotiate our way through the biggest economic and social upheaval we have seen in more than 50 years lies in our ability to innovate,” Senator Carr said in a statement.


“It is about getting people to understand and grasp the opportunities that difficult times can also provide. The creativity and resilience of our people will help us confront the challenges that face our rapidly changing world as we move towards a cleaner and greener future.”


Participants can enter more than one project but must complete separate entry forms and provide separate supplementary material for each project. Each project can only be entered into one category.


Entries close on September 28. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on December 7.


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