Meet the winners of the 2021 Student Innovation Awards

23 August 2021
Student entrepreneurs tackle real-world problems
University of Sydney supports student entrepreneurs in taking their big idea to the next level with the 2021 Student Innovations Awards.

Food wastage, learning to read, water treatment and blindness are just some of the real-world problems our students have been tackling as part of the 2021 Student Innovation Awards.

“I am delighted to be announcing the winners of this year’s Student Innovation Awards. The Award categories were renewed this year to better align with the University of Sydney values, which include dedication to a positive social, planetary, interdisciplinary and research impact across the globe," said University Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC.

"It is inspiring to see the substantial number of submissions, despite the current climate that the pandemic has imposed. Innovation and entrepreneurial thinking continue to play a role in easing the hardships of this pandemic, and now more than ever we need our students to be creative and innovative in their approach to the world’s complex problems. Congratulations to all the winners, and we hope to see all these entrants continue to inspire and improve our society.”

Summary of award winners

Economics, Science, Education, Arts, Law, and Pharmacy undergraduate students Lucy Fang, Teresa Su, Therese Lee, Michelle Xu and Julia Kousparis have won the Social Impact Prize, which includes $5,000 to help grow their program.

Their business, KLAP, is Australia’s first online platform aiming to help close the big reading gap by directly connecting urban high schools with primary schools that have disadvantaged students struggling in learning/reading, especially in rural, remote areas.

Research shows one of the best ways to help kids’ reading is to get them reading buddies near their own age. Our city high school mentors, who have time and enthusiasm to inspire their young mentees to read, fit the criteria perfectly. In helping mentees, mentors also get skilled, become more confident, and attain a stronger sense of community.

Commerce, Mechatronics and Advanced Studies undergraduate students Vivian Yu, Christina Liu, David Young and James Macintyre have won the Planetary Impact Prize, which includes $5,000 cash to help grow their business.

Their business, WasteLess, is a mobile app that digitises your food inventory. This features smart expiry date approximations to help people remember and prioritise what to eat first. Consumption and wastage insights are also shown to help people make better decisions, while badges, progress achievements and the ability to connect with friends make wasting less fun.

“Alarmingly, one third of the world's food is wasted, placing a large resource strain on the planet. Consumer households are the biggest driver of food waste in Australia, largely due to people forgetting to eat their foods before spoilage occurs.” WasteLess App Team

Dalyell Scholar student, Alyssa Wong and her team, Margaret Huo, Katherine Coffey (Dalyell Scholar), Emma Glendinning (Dalyell Scholar), Douglas Chu and Li Wei (PhD in Chemical Engineering) have won the Interdisciplinary Impact Prize, which includes $5,000 to help grow their business.

Their business, Hydrogic, offers a scalable and decentralised method of producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). H2O2 acts as a disinfectant and is used across several applications, including water treatment, textile bleaching, surface cleaning and hand sanitiser, all of which could be transformed by localised production. Hydrogic's new electrochemical synthesis production system allows H2O2 to be produced anywhere, overcoming key challenges associated with storage, transportation and most prominently, cost. Currently, the team's focus is on water treatment where potential early adopters are looking to service homes, hospitals, and nursing homes across Australia.

PhD student Nicole Hallett has won the Research Impact Prize, which includes $5,000 in cash and a three month membership to the Sydney Knowledge Hub.

Her project, Sight for the Future, aims to save patients with corneal disease from a life of blindness. Keratoconus is the leading cause of corneal transplants worldwide, with the most vital improvement needed in early detection and predicting progression. Using machine learning we are working to improve surgical outcomes through the development of a progression index.

We can take a set of clinical patient variables, run them through our developed Deep Machine Learning models and track patients from visit to visit, providing important progression information. This will assist ophthalmic surgeons in optimising surgical intervention and ultimately improve patient outcomes and avoid blindness.

The Research Prize has been sponsored by the University’s Sydney Knowledge Hub. 

1st place: $1,000


2nd place: $500

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