Students get a taste of entrepreneurship and innovation at College Hack.

Twenty-six future-focused college students attended College Hack 2022 on 3 & 4 November 2022 at the Canberra Innovation Network to create innovative ideas to make Canberra a better city in the year 2040. The teams were asked to target an issue, create a solution, build a business model, identify a target market and craft a 3-minute pitch to deliver to a panel of judges. Six teams from four ACT public schools participated: Erindale College, Lake Ginninderra College, Hawker College and Lake Tuggeranong.

Across the two days, students took a deep dive into lean innovation and the ideology of creating innovative solutions – something most school students don’t have the opportunity to do.

Tailored workshops around ideation, working with a business model, and pitching helped the students understand the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of innovative solutions. The students were coached and mentored by experts from the Innovation ecosystem who provided them with their experience, knowledge and guidance to develop the best possible idea that was then pitched to the judging panel.

The four judges, Rae Knopik – CEO, GREN and President, CBR Gals Network, Shooby Kandel – Founder, Mude, Kylie Scholten – Executive Group Manager, Service Design & Delivery, ACT Education Directorate and Petr Adamek – CEO, Canberra Innovation Network came from diverse backgrounds which included government, marketing and design, entrepreneurship, creative media and education, based their final decision on the criteria of innovation, relevance to the ACT, viability and impact.

After careful deliberation, they awarded team Real ReACT from Erindale College as the competition’s winner.

Real ReACT – Erindale College (winners)

A group of caring students from Erindale College who pitched their idea, Real ReACT, that addressed the issue of road safety by sharing personal stories about losing people to road accidents; although they were young, the impact was immeasurable.

The solution devised was a ‘Virtual-Reality Hazard Simulation Program’ that assists learner drivers with identifying hazards on the road. The solution was designed to not only support their peers learning to drive but to contribute to the overall safety of ACT roads.

Hydrox – Hawker College (runner-up)

With global supply chain interruptions in 2022, the Hydrox team identified food availability as a pressing issue for Canberra in 2040. The Hydrox proposal centred around a Wi-Fi-enabled hydroponic pot solution allowing residents in Canberra to grow their preferred crops conveniently through a mobile phone app. The app would offer the opportunity to regulate climate instead of relying on Canberra’s crazy and unpredictable weather.

Hydronators – Erindale College

With the ACT’s shift to electric vehicles in the coming years, the Hydronators offered a solution to move towards hydrogen-powered cars instead of lithium-ion battery-powered cars. Their proposal focussed on this being a lower-emission alternative to battery-powered electric vehicles.

Uniformed – Hawker College

Tonnes of uniform textiles end up in Australian landfill each year. Uniformed is a solution presented by Hawker College designed to tackle the sustainability of school uniforms in the ACT. The idea was to provide a storefront that doubled as a shop for new and used unforms and a return point for families in the ACT to ‘trade-in’ their uniforms. The team also proposed to partner with ‘Worn-Up’, a company offering a textile rescue program by up-cycling non-wearable uniforms into Australian products such as school desks.

Green CBR Cladding – University of Canberra Senior Secondary College (UCSSC) Lake Ginninderra

The team from the University of Canberra Senior Secondary College Lake Ginninderra discussed the pressing issue of the urban heat island effect. Heat islands is a term used to describe a structure, like a building or a road, that absorbs and re-edits the sun’s heart, creating higher temperatures relative to the surrounding areas.

To tackle this problem, UCSSC presented Green CBR Cladding. The proposal from this team was to retrofit ‘green cladding’ on buildings in Canberra to install and maintain cladding with ACT weather-proofed plants and vegetation to create green spaces around the ACT.

Food 4 Thought – Lake Tuggeranong College

Food 4 Thought was a solution presented by Lake Tuggeranong College, aiming to provide free lunches to all ACT Public Schools. By using existing school canteens, Food 4 Thought aimed to involve students in cooking and creating lunches for the school community. The team pitched a partnership with IGA and other local businesses to collect food items used in cooking classes to create meals for the school.

This event has introduced the students to a range of activities and experiences that will ultimately benefit and assist them in their future professions. The students worked on real-life, hands-on projects and experienced using tangible skills such as brainstorming, creative problem solving and pitching – skills they will use as they enter the workforce.

The Canberra Innovation Network was overwhelmed with the level of enthusiasm and participation from all the students on the day and looks forward to making this event a yearly occasion!

Article adapted from post written by the ACT GOV  –  Education departmen­­­­­­­­­­t.