UOW entrepreneurial students shine on national stage
UOW wins New Team award at Enactus Australia National Competition
The University of Wollongong (UOW) was among 15 universities represented at the 2022 Enactus Australia National Competition, held at the University of Sydney Abercrombie Business School.
The UOW Society of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation (SEI) team was awarded overall winner of the New Team category on Wednesday 6 July, for their social entrepreneurship project, PLANTr.
The annual competition encourages students to identify local social and environmental challenges and develop entrepreneurial and collaborative approaches to them, to create a better world for everyone.
During the two-day competition students presented their most compelling business and innovation projects for sustainable impact to benefit people, planet and prosperity.
The UOW team of eight multidisciplinary students, led by UOW SEI president and business student, Kartik Agarwal, had 12 minutes to present their project PLANTr to a panel of business and academic judges.
The team’s innovative solution addressed six UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their social entrepreneurship project.
Rather than add to the millions of tonnes of plastics, the PLANTr team saw an opportunity to use discarded, soft plastics that were clogging up the marine environment and recycle them into a suite of PLANTr products including high-tech planting pots and plant seedlings aimed at a diverse target audience from kids through to restaurant owners.
In preparation for the competition, UOW’s business incubator and accelerator iAccelerate offered students a series of entrepreneurial workshops that focused on lean methodologies, UN SDGs, and the art of pitching persuasively.
UOW staff, alumni and iAccelerate mentors with keen interests in social justice, plastics pollution, environmental sustainability, community development, and entrepreneurial leadership, including Alison Scobie, Cath Blakey, Sapphire Loebler, and Frank Marzano, assisted the students to get ‘pitch ready’ and refine their project.
The competition was the first external event for the newly formed student society. SEI formed earlier in the year supported by Dr Jeri Childers, Director of Education at iAccelerate, and UOW staff members Ian Butler and Erin Snape.
Dr Childers said it was a fantastic opportunity for the students to unleash their entrepreneurial ideas and further develop their pitching skills.
“iAccelerate is committed to enhancing the UOW student experience, increasing student’s employability potential, and offering them valuable leadership development opportunities where they can increase their confidence and demonstrate their abilities to apply innovation and entrepreneurial mindsets to local and global problems,” she said.
“Our entrepreneurial programs help students take their inspirations from concept to commercialisation to impact, which is what our employers and communities want from their university.”
iAccelerate is a cornerstone of UOW’s commitment to helping build and scale sustainable businesses that have a positive impact in the region, nation, and the world.
Registrations are open to students, staff, and community members who are looking to commercialise their intellectual property and create sustainable local and global businesses.
ABOUT ENACTUS AUSTRALIA NATIONAL COMPETITION
The Enactus Australia National Competition provides a unique opportunity for university teams to present their community outreach projects and demonstrate the impact of their innovative business solutions to issues facing our society.
Enactus is the world’s largest experiential and engaged learning platform where 72,000 university students across 37 countries, identify local social and environmental challenges and develop entrepreneurial and collaborative approaches to them.
iAccelerate is a unique business accelerator and incubator program at UOW, where students, startups, scaleups, social enterprises and businesses thrive. Businesses are supported by a robust model of education, mentoring, seed funding and unparalleled access to one of the world’s most innovative young research universities.
Main photo: UOW Society of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation students at the 2022 Enactus Australia National Competition (back row) Kartik Agarwal (president), Selena Griffith (CEO Enactus Australia), Ruchir Mudgal, Parth Sharma, (front row) Kylie Smith (Community, Operations and Events Manager, Enactus Australia), Happy Malik, Dhruti Shinde, Daksh Pathak Sharma, Hemesh Vyas, Ekagrata Sharma (not shown). Photo supplied by Enactus Australia.