Twenty tech entrepreneurs working on a range of innovative STEM ventures have been chosen for a new $2.5 million accelerator program.
Launched by PwC, the 21st Century Minds Accelerator program is focusing on startups and founders that are aiming to rapidly scale digital literacy.
PwC Managing Partner Tony Peake says the quantity and quality of applications is very promising.
“It proves overwhelmingly that not only is there a need for support to get STEM education initiatives off the ground but that there is depth of innovative talent out there,” Peake says in a statement.
“The business community just needs to nurture and support that talent.”
Selected initiatives will see the development of easy-to-use 3D design software for K-8 classrooms, playgrounds incorporating STEM exploration spaces, robotics and coding workshops and virtual learning environments.
Participants will benefit through a fully funded position in an accelerator program by either Education Changemakers, Foundation for Young Australians or Impact Academy and Social Traders.
They will also have the opportunity to share in $400,000 worth of PwC services, work with mentors and pitch to investors in November.
Peake says another aim of the program is to improve outcomes for underrepresented groups, including students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Indigenous Australians and women.
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel welcomes the investment.
“Thousands of Australian students can be entrepreneurs if we open their minds and nurture their talent,” he says.
Teach For Australia founder Melodie Potts Rosevear, who supports the program, says she has high hopes.
“It’s an important initiative to collectively harness the potential of young Australians to become the next generation of STEM leaders,” she says.
The program is supported by a number of major corporations including Google, Microsoft and CPA Australia.