Twenty tech entrepreneurs have been chosen for a new accelerator program run by PwC and backed by some of Australia’s largest corporates that aims to rapidly scale Australia’s most promising science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education initiatives.
“The quantity and quality of applications received proves overwhelming that, not only is there a need for support to get STEM education initiatives off the ground, but that there is depth of innovative talent out there. The business community just needs to nurture and support that talent,” PwC Managing Partner Tony Peake said.
“That’s why PwC is collaborating with businesses and investing over $2.5m in cash and in-kind services in our 21st Century Minds Accelerator program over the next 18 months. I’m tremendously excited by our winners. Any one of them can help to lift STEM education nationally and internationally.”
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel welcomed investment in the workforce of the future.
“Thousands of Australian students can be entrepreneurs if we open their minds and nurture their talent,” Dr Finkel said.
One initiative of those selected is an easy-to-use 3D design software and complete 3D printing program for K-8 classrooms, which recently won government support through the first round of Accelerating Commercialisation grants awarded by the Department of Industry last year.
“Government support has really helped us to expand a lot faster than we’d anticipated, and the 21 Century Minds Accelerator will help us go the next step. We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with PwC and Education Change Makers to help us get a better foothold in the NSW and Victorian market. The connections and credibility the program brings will be an enormous help to Makers Empire,” Jonathan Soong said.
3D printing is a gateway for more females to study STEM subjects Soong adds. “More girls go into design than coding and 3D printing is a bridge between the two.”
Other winning initiatives are targeted at primary school children to university graduates and include an app that turns playgrounds into STEM exploration spaces, robotics and coding workshops, virtual learning environments, and initiatives that incorporate a focus on improving outcomes for under-represented groups, including females, Indigenous Australians and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Support for finalists in 2016 will include:
Melodie Potts Rosevear, Founder and CEO of Teach For Australia, who are supporting the program, said: “We are honoured and excited to be taking part in the PwC’s 21st Century Mind’s Accelerator Program and have high hopes for this unprecedented and important initiative to collectively harness the potential of young Australians to become the next generation of STEM leaders.”
The accelerator program is being supported by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Google, Microsoft, NAB, BP, GE, Monash University, Social Ventures Australia, AI Group and CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants ANZ.
Read more about the 21st Century Minds Accelerator program.
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