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Student Innovation Challenge

In a virtual expo-style event, students pitch their start-ups, interdisciplinary projects and innovative research
Applications are now closed.

The Student Innovation Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for University of Sydney students to present their innovative solutions to real-world problems. There are over $28,000 worth of prizes that will be won.

Last year’s winners included a proactive management tool to combat UV risk in the workplace, rocketry research in the aerospace sector, and a digital tool that empowers underprivileged farmers use fertiliser effectively.

Congraulations to our shortlisted teams! The shortlisted teams will be invited to present a virtual pitch to the Showcase Judging Panel on 12 August 2020. The winners will be announced on 26 August 2020.

For the first time in 2020, shortlisted teams will have the chance to win a $1,000 People’s Choice Prize. 

Shortlisted teams

Interdisciplinary Innovation Prize

The prevalence and impact of money laundering on both an Australian and global scale is proliferating at an upward trajectory.

Criminals are becoming smarter, more efficient and increasingly difficult to trace. Our team, Anti-Artifice, proposes that this exacerbating concern can be reduced through the implementation of a Deep-Learning AI fraud detected system utilizing a Champion/Challenger Methodology.

We believe that our strategy would not only save billions of dollars of criminal transactions in the global banking industry but also reduce attrition rates of criminal activity and as such, deter and increase accountability if such activity continues to occur in the future.


Team members: Ayoan Salim Sadman Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronics), Charlie Sharpe Bachelor of Science (Physics & Mathematics), Megan Mirchandani Bachelor of Arts (History), Nick McGarry Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), Silpa Sreekumar Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Banking)

From their expert ability at nagging, to telling you to eat your vegetables, mothers play a significant role in our lives, which we may take for granted. But what if the mother is physically and/or emotionally absent in their child’s life? What if a mother is struggling so much that she can barely look after herself, let alone someone else?

The Help Inn is an online community for the partners, families and friends of mothers with perinatal depression. With a structured podcast and forums, support networks can lend a "helping hand" by paying a visit to the Help Inn.

Team members: Margarette Nguyen B. Commerce/Advanced Studies, Christina Liu B. Commerce/Advanced Studies, Hillary Nguyen B. Psychology, Vivian Yu B. Commerce / Advanced Studies, Yelena Cao B. Commerce/Advanced Studies


PestGenius is a project aimed at helping farmers in first and third world countries to identify and sustainably manage pest infestations.

Using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI), the app allows farmers to easily identify potentially harmful insects in photographs.

The app provides fast, easy and widely accessible information on agricultural pests, giving farmers appropriate methods of treating and combating infestations with a minimal impact on the environment.


Team members: Josiah Tan Mechatronics, Rabie Saadie Mechanical Engineering, Joe He Advanced Computing, Alex Zhu Advanced Computing, Elliot Earnshaw Law/ Economics

If you were presented with a non-meat product that looked, smelt and tasted just like meat, but you didn’t know what was in it or how it was produced, would you still eat it?

Don’t worry! Plantvia will help you to evaluate your plant-based meat analogues (PBMAs) consumption choices, based on relevant nutritional and environmental factors for PBMAs. You will be able to know how healthy PMBAs are for your body and the planet!


Team members: Irene Lee Bachelor of Commerce/Advanced Studies (Finance & Economics), Sophie Fenton Bachelor of Commerce/Advanced Studies (Finance & International Business), Isabella Tu Bachelor of Commerce/Advanced Studies (Finance & English Literature), Lexie Li Bachelor of Commerce/Advanced Studies (Financial Mathematics and Statistics & Business Analytics)

One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which affects one in three diabetic patients, and it is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults.

iCARE is an innovative app that has the potential to achieve ocular self-management and improve the clinical efficiency of diabetic retinopathy referral procedures. Realising this concept is inherently innovative as it requires multidisciplinary collaboration between Engineering and Medicine.

By taking the advantages of mobile health and retinal cameras, iCARE is expected to facilitate care coordination and prevent diabetes-associated visual loss.


Team members: Rui Gong Master of Health Technology Innovation, Xueying Yang Master of Health Technology Innovation, Zhanpeng Tang Master of Health Technology Innovation

Research Innovation Prize

CROSS (Calculated Reference Of Stellar System) is a new-generation star tracker system for use in small-satellites being developed within the University of Sydney School of AMME in collaboration with CUAVA.

Star trackers provide high precision attitude determination for satellites, however current technology is prohibitively large and expensive for the growing small satellite market. CROSS aims to combine innovative and novel research to develop a competitive and accessible star tracker platform.

Simultaneously, this will grow Australia’s space capability through Sydney University researchers and students.


Team members: Joshua Critchley-Marrows Master of Philosophy (Engineering), Dominic Albertson Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical Engineering) and Bachelor of Science (Advanced), Julian Guinane Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical Engineering) and Bachelor of Science (Advanced), Diploma of Language Studies, Benjamin Jarvis Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical Engineering) and Bachelor of Science (Advanced), Matthew Suntup Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Mechatronic Engineering) and Bachelor of Science (Advanced)

Keratoconus is a progressive, debilitating corneal disease. Driven by USYD Medicine PhD student Nicole Hallett, a multidisciplinary team comprising scientists, clinicians and mathematicians is utilising the power of deep learning to improve patient outcomes.

To date there is little consensus on classification and progression rates for the condition. The team has developed a fully connected, deep learning neural network by combining clinical variables with existing algorithms to accurately distinguish and predict patient progression - meaning optimised surgical intervention, treatment and patient outcomes.  

This represents a novel use of technology in the detection and potential treatment of a significant eye disease.


Team members: Nicole Hallett PhD Student, Jing Jing You PhD Medicine, Yu Guang Wang PhD Applied Mathematics UNSW, Chris Hodge PhD BAppSc, Gerard Sutton MBBS MD FRANZCO

Despite athletes with cerebral palsy (CP) making up 20% of all competitors at the Paralympics, we know nothing about the effects of training on their performance.

My research delivered the first training study ever conducted on this athlete group and has shown that their sports performance can be improved through heavy strength training. I’m now working on developing workshops and resources to share this knowledge.

Coaches and athletes now have a proven method to follow to ensure they make the most effective use of their training time and can have confidence that their efforts will contribute to improved sports performance.

Team members: Jennifer Fleeton, PhD candidate

Most patients awaiting heart transplantation globally will have a life-saving artificial heart pump called a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) surgically implanted.

All of the external wearable components that keep the pump running must be carried in a body-worn bag 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My research has shown that elegant and lightweight carry bags for female VAD patients do not exist.

The VAD Purse has been designed for the unique needs of female VAD patients. The bag converts from a shoulder-style bag to a backpack in less than 30 seconds providing more ergonomic and balanced weight distribution.

Team members: Jessica Lea Dunn, PhD (Design Innovation)

More than 300,000 Australians have a history of breast cancer, and survivors often face mental and physical health challenges. During the COVID19 pandemic, in-person support services were cancelled.

Together with survivors, health professionals and researchers, we created the ‘Wellness after Breast Cancer’ text message program, which is based on Anna’s PhD research program called ‘EMPOWER-SMS’. This free 3-month program provides science-based information and support about mental health, healthy eating, exercise, COVID19 and links to trustworthy websites.

This program modernizes post-treatment care by offering a digital solution that is cost-effective, accessible and can easily support people in need anywhere, anytime.

Team members: Anna Singleton, Rebecca Raeside

Start-Up Prize

ALS-SimVR is a Virtual Reality based training application to allow Medical and Nursing clinicians to learn and practice the skills required to be an effective Team Leader in an Advanced Life Support (ALS) situation.

Traditional ALS training requires significant physical and educational and educational setting and thus improve patient safety.

Team members: Nathan Moore, PhD (Medicine)

Compass is a digital transport management platform. We aggregate speed and volume data from public and private vehicles making it easier for city planners to gain network-wide sophisticated insights.

Users can view traffic data for any road, any time, instantly.

Team members: Emily Bobis Masters of Commerce/ Diploma of language studies, Harrison Khannah Bachelor of Design Computing, David Lee Bachelor of Design Computing, Angus McDonald Bachelor of Economic/Bachelor of Arts

Young women’s journeys into STEM are arduous, alienating, and uncertain. That’s bad news for everyone. Enter, Poppy.

Poppy’s profiling technology understands user’s interests, how they like to work, and shows them perfectly suited career destinations. Poppy helps to create clear pathways and goals, creating an understanding of how each destination aligns with what matters to the user and fostering a sense of belonging and efficacy. With Poppy, the incredible women carving their own paths into the world of STEM are given clarity, inspiration, and confidence.

A world where women have clear pathways into STEM is a better world, for everyone.

Team members: Isabelle Kohout Bachelor of Advanced Eng.(Mechatronic Engineering) / Bachelor of Science (Computer Science), Gabriel Raubenheimer Bachelor of Advanced Eng. (Software Engineering)

It’s our goal at SoundSense to give independence and agency to people with visual impairment, by allowing them to see the world with sound.

We are working on a hands free wearable device that fits depth sensors into the frame of a pair of glasses. It converts a live 3D video of what’s in front of the user into spatial audio via an embedded processor. The user can then listen to a soundscape of their environment. Think of it as echolocation, but made simple.

Team members: Benjamin Laulan-Souilhac Master of Commerce, Preethom Pal Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Advanced Computing, Emily Luo Bachelor of Engineering at UNSW, Jonathan Hribar Master of Biomedical Engineering at UNSW, Junji Moey Bachelor of Engineering at UNSW

WatchWise is a parental control SAAS startup that solves serious problems for children regarding YouTube’s personalisation algorithm.

The algorithm analyses viewers’ watch history to predict their preferences and recommend content. This narrows children’s media consumption as YouTube recommends content similar to what someone is already watching. YouTube also maximises viewer engagement by feeding viewers increasingly emotional content, eventually leading to inappropriate content unsuitable for children.

WatchWise solves these problems by uniquely circumventing YouTube’s algorithm such that it cannot expose children to inappropriate content or narrow their media consumption. Our product will create the safe, diverse online environment that children deserve.

Team members: Joshua Mok Bachelor of Commerce and Laws, Luke Poier Bachelor of Commerce and Laws, Hae Soo Park Bachelor of Arts and Laws, David Hua Bachelor of Engineering and Laws, Avish Sharma Bachelor of Economics and Advanced Studies




Start-up Innovation Prize - Shortlisted teams

Research Innovation Prize - Shortlisted teams

Interdisciplinary Innovation Prize - Shortlisted teams

Shortlisting judging panel

Key dates

  • Applications open: 18 May 2020
  • Applications close: 25 June 2020
  • Shortlisted teams announced: 27 July 2020
  • Showcase Judging Panel: 12 August 2020
  • Winners announced: 26 August 2020.

Prizes and judging criteria

Is your idea ready to launch? The Start-up Innovation Prize is for individual students, or teams, who have developed a new idea with commercial potential. This competition is best suited for students who already have made demonstrable progress.

In addition to the cash prize, the winner will also receive a three month membership at the Sydney Knowledge Hub the University's coworking space for innovative businesses seeking to collaborate with the University. Membership includes access to:

  • flexible workspace
  • the Knowledge Hub community
  • the programming and events held onsite
  • facilitation to find and work with the brightest minds and other resources of the University to get your business to the next level.


  • The team leader must be a current enrolled student of the University of Sydney
  • The idea submitted must have originated from one or more of the team members.

From theory to practice! This prize is for individual HDR students or teams who have discovered and developed a practical application for their research. This competition is best suited to students who demonstrate that their research has led to this outcome. 

In addition to the cash prize, the winner will also receive a three month membership at the Sydney Knowledge Hub the University's coworking space for innovative businesses seeking to collaborate with the University. Membership includes access to:

  • flexible workspace
  • the Knowledge Hub community
  • the programming and events held onsite
  • facilitation to find and work with the brightest minds and other resources of the University to get your business to the next level.


  • The team leader must be a current enrolled HDR student of the University of Sydney
  • The idea submitted must have originated from one or more of the team members.

Two heads are better than one! Teams of 2 or more students working together from different disciplines can enter their solutions to real-world problems. The competition is best suited to students who illustrate how their disciplinary expertise have combined to produce a better idea.


  • The team leader must be a current enrolled student of the University of Sydney
  • The idea submitted must have originated from one or more of the team members
  • Teams must be made up of members with two or more academic disciplines.

Shortlisted teams in each of these categories will have the chance to win the People’s Choice Prize. The idea with the most votes in their respective category will win $1,000. Voting closed on 12 August 2020.

Students should be aware that shortlisted applications will be publicly visible and should not include sensitive or confidential material. The application process, judging process and People’s Choice Award voting will be managed through the online platform Judgify. Judgify is not owned by the University. Students should review the Judgify privacy policy before submission. Students should keep copies of any material uploaded to Judgify for their own records.