There are a number of competitions around at the moment aimed at fostering innovation in Australia. It’s pretty clear Australia needs some new innovation as everyone, again and again, cites the Hills hoist, WiFi and the Cochlear implant as the examples to follow. We clearly need a new generation of innovators and competitions are doubtless a way of providing an incentive to think along those lines and to recognise those already achieving.
Inevitably many of these focus on kids or young adults which is no bad thing. But that’s also an area where it’s important to get the kids thinking beyond just coming up with an exciting idea and thinking about how to make it real: that’s certainly why I prefer a format like Young ICT Explorers to the littleBIGidea approach. Innovation has to be more than just floating an idea.
That said anything which provides encouragement and recognition to our innovators of any age ought to be applauded and supported. Here’s the list of competitions I’m aware of:
The Australian Innovation Challenge covers a wide range of adult domains and includes a school students area.
littleBIGidea is open to students in Years 3-8. They simply need to come up with an idea and then describe it in 200 words. Winners get a trip to NASA and there’s a range of runner-up prizes.
Hills Young Innovator of the Year is already in final judging this year. Open to anyone under the age of 26 it recognises the most outstanding innovations in categories of Mobile, Data and Cloud with $25,000 in prize money available to winners.
Young ICT Explorers is open to school students. It’s already at the judging level this year, but is now firmly established as a national and annual competition.
iAwards are the ICT industry’s Oscars, recognising the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators in a range of categories at State and National level.