Igniting Innovation: The 2024 Sunshine Coast Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards Awaits YOUR Ideas

Participating in the Sunshine Coast Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards (MTIA) is not just about winning; it’s a journey of discovery, innovation, and personal growth. Often, the potential of our brightest ideas remains undiscovered until we take that first bold step to give them a try. There might just be a groundbreaking idea brewing inside your mind, waiting for the right moment and platform to be tested and brought to life. The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards provides the opportunity for you to do just that.

As a mentor in 2022, a judge in 2023 and now the Program Director for Study Sunshine Coast in 2024, I’ve seen firsthand the remarkable impact this competition has on young minds. It’s a platform where ideas are nurtured, skills are honed, and dreams can become tangible realities. You will be surprised about what you can do!

Last years award winners were from Sunshine Coast Grammar School, whose team clinched the top prize with their ingenious ‘Reel Health’ concept. This attachable reel system for Electrocardiogram (ECG) machines exemplified innovative thinking and practical problem-solving. The team, comprising Hugo Collins, Lila Collins, and Max Mays-Duncan, under the guidance of coordinator Carey Warhurst, exemplified the spirit of innovation that these awards cherish. They did an amazing job of finding a simple problem that they had a personal connection to, that causes major issues in the hospital system, and developed a solution that works and has commercial opportunity.

As runners up (and not newbies to innovation programs, with their second start-up idea), Glasshouse Christian College’s Arno Mens and Charlie Bidgood claimed second place with their idea ‘Solbot’. Utilising drone technology to deploy autonomous cleaning robots for solar panels, this idea showcased how our young talents are thinking ahead towards sustainable solutions that align to their passions and can translate into business opportunities.

Mr Bidgood said that ‘for students with a new idea wishing to learn about business creation and innovation the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards is the perfect place to meet well connected people willing to help you. 

The best part of the MTIA was learning about the processes of design and business while having mentors to guide and answer questions. MTIA helped me confirm that I want to study in a field that allows me to help think of, and design innovative solutions to problems whether this be through science or engineering.

Coming into 2024, Arno and I intend to begin our University studies and start our company, SolBot.’

Both teams, with their remarkable ideations, received more than just accolades. The level of ideation and creativity showcased by these young innovators was nothing short of exceptional. This year, we eagerly anticipate another round of groundbreaking ideas from you, our region’s brightest and most creative minds.

We are extremely lucky to have the continued support of Sunshine Coast Council backing these awards as it aligns directly to their Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) for 2013 to 2033 with a focus on Investment in Talent and Skills. The REDS highlights the need for all-encompassing digital education and connectivity, developing our pipeline of talent, as well as focusing on collaboration as a key driver in creating the knowledge-based economy.

Telstra’s involvement, particularly through Matthew Thornton, Regional Engagement Manager for Southeast Queensland, underscores the significance of collaboration between local industry and regional initiatives. Thornton’s emphasis on using technology as a tool for innovation rather than just entertainment resonates deeply within the framework of these awards.

Why Should You Enter?

The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards are more than just a competition; they are a stepping stone towards a future in creating your own start-up business. We encourage students, either individually or in teams of up to three from the same school, to participate in these awards and gain invaluable experience in problem-solving, teamwork, and creative thinking.

The Benefits of Participation

  1. Real-World Experience: This competition offers a rare glimpse into real-world challenges and how to approach them innovatively giving you experience that employers look for.
  2. Mentorship and Networking: Access industry mentors and networking opportunities with professionals offering you a priceless resource for connections and guidance for future career pathways.
  3. Skill Development: From technical skills to soft skills like communication and teamwork, participants grow in multiple dimensions and develop the skills to start their own business.
  4. Visibility and Recognition: The platform provides a unique opportunity for young innovators to showcase their talents on a significant stage. As participants, you’re not just competing; you’re learning to be the problem-solvers and leaders of tomorrow. This is your chance to shine, to show what you’re capable of, and to take a significant step towards your future career.

For the second year, we encourage your start-up ideas to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), encouraging you to think globally while acting locally. With enhanced entry criteria and an “Ideas Guide,” we aim to inspire you to tackle pressing regional and global challenges. Or use your own business idea and bring it to life. As a Year 9 to 12 student of the Sunshine Coast Local Government Area (LGA), the stage is set for you to showcase your innovative spirit. Remember, your ideas have the power to transform not just our community but also set a precedent for global innovation. We invite you to take this opportunity to think, create, and innovate. Let the 2024 Sunshine Coast Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards be the platform where your ideas take flight towards a brighter, more innovative future. For more information, tips on entering, and updates on the awards, stay tuned to our website and social media channels

Tara Jacobsen – Program Director Study Sunshine Coast

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