Student entrepreneurs pitch their bright ideas

23 August 2019
Winning ideas at the University's annual Student Innovation Challenge included solutions to managing UV risk and skin cancer in the workplace, helping underprivileged farmers increase productivity and profitably, developing technology to fly our future rockets and helping learners reach their full potential.

The Student Innovation Challenge provides an opportunity for students and alumni to present their ideas to panel of entrepreneurs, industry, academics and alumni.

The 16 finalist teams across four categories showcased their ideas for the chance to win up to $10,000.

Start-up innovation prize ($10,000) – METASENSE

Reza Behi, Motasam Majedy, Megan Nguyen, Diane Cherrier

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. With the majority of skin cancers in Australia caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight and nearly one in five Australian workers exposed to the sun every day, managing UV risk and skin cancer is critical for businesses.

METASENSE is using sensors and analytics to bring proactive management of UV-risk and skin cancer into workplaces. The team has developed a wearable device (Safe Spot) that can be integrated into personal protective equipment such as hard hats. The device measures UV exposure, the temperature, time and location of the worker. It then alerts the individual via a mobile app and the organisation via an online platform when their employees are at high risk of UV exposure, allowing them to take immediate action.

“We are excited to have one of the largest construction companies in Australia on board for a 6-month pilot and plan to launch the pilot and product within the next three months,” said METASENSE founder Reza Behi.

Research innovation prize ($10,000) –Rocketry

André Bauer, Andrew Tang, Clara Morris, Matthew D'Souza, Mitchell Galletly

The space sector represents a market of over 300 billion USD globally. With the reinvigorated interest in space and the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, Australia is well positioned to capture an increasing share of this economic activity.

The University of Sydney Rocketry Team are conducting novel and innovative research into the kinds of technologies that Australia needs to get ahead in the new space industry. Last year, the group of student engineers became the first Australian university team to design and build a rocket that successfully reached 10,000 feet and last month were named category winners at the Spaceport America Cup rocketry competition

“We want to be developing the kinds of technology and graduate engineers the Australian space industry is looking out for,” said team president André Bauer.

“The next step for us is to develop a hybrid-fuel engine that will enable the team to develop a launch vehicle capable of attaining even greater altitudes.”

Interdisciplinary innovation prize ($5,000) –RiseHarvest

Joseph Shen, Chandan Kumar, Sam Coggins, John Hor

Farming productivity in Myanmar is low. Average rice yields for farmers are approximately 20 per cent lower than world averages, partially due to limited access to education and training about farming practices.

RiseHarvest aims to support underprivileged rice farmers in Myanmar to use fertiliser more profitably and sustainably through a digital tool.

“80 per cent of rice farmers in Myanmar have access to smart phones,” said student Joseph Shen.

“Our vision is to turn the smart phone into a digital fertilizer assistant, providing tailor-made fertilizer recommendations to every individual farmer.”

Farmers input their budget, farming information and other real time measurements to receive fertiliser recommendations. The tool, which is currently being developed in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, has the potential to impact the lives of the more than three million paddy farmers by improving productivity and profitability on their farms.

Alumni innovation prize ($5,000) – The Jist

Keegan Haugh, Mitchell Hartigan

We all know notetaking is a race against time. Whether we’re writing or typing, people always talk so fast that we can’t keep up. The Jist solves this problem by delivering a new way to take notes that helps users to listen and learn from the people around them.

Created by two alumni from the Bachelor of Design Computing, The Jist is a thoughtfully designed notetaking and recording application that allows you to highlight key moments as you hear them. “With a tap, the app will instantly highlight and transcribe the last 20 seconds of audio you’ve just heard, and add it to a highlight reel” explains Mitchell Hartigan, co-creator of The Jist.

“We’re also building towards allowing people to work together to create crowdsourced highlight reels. This will help people in many different situations to collect and deliver feedback collaboratively. Particularly in lectures, allowing students to learn from each other and helping lecturers to measure and respond to student engagement.”

2019 Student Innovation Challenge finalists 

Congratulations to all our 2019 Student Innovation Challenge finalists.  

AgCrowd a first mover investment platform focused on agriculture and energy
Solushin created a patented medical device that is clinically validated to treat shin splints
Adaprox a startup connecting home appliance products to the internet
Zeta Aerial an innovative drone solution for crop protection
Neural Network Hardware harnessing AI to create the first neural network hardware device
Strawberry innovative solutions to fast and effective STI detection that’s not confronting for users
Medical Image AI  using AI to analyse curvilinear images to aid researchers to understand the data with higher efficiency 
Green Bean reducing food waste via a smartphone app
Corax developed a new ophthalmoscope to assess your retina to detect and prevent illness a gamified platform fostering soft skills development, through company-endorsed virtual challenges and projects
Filter Phytes a device that filters out LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream in order to reduce heart attacks
SPARK an application to aid patients with heart failure in managing their Ventricular Assist Device 

Innovation Week Coding Challenge

The winners of the Innovation Week Coding Challenge were also announced, with Simon Cai (1st place), Mike Li (2nd place) and Patrick Hao and Andrew Lee (3rd place) designing low-cost solutions to help prevent blindness due to diabetic retinopathy. The problem was set by Associate Professor Ravi Seethamraju from the University of Sydney Business School, along with Professor Krishna Sundar and Dr Shashank Garg, both from the Digital Innovation Lab at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, who are working on solutions.

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