PwC backs Australia's best young STEM innovators with $20,000 seed funding

1 July 2015

Two young Australian innovators are ready to take their ventures to the next level after sharing in $20,000 in seed funding from PwC during a live pitching event held by the Foundation for Young Australians.

Taj Pabari and Jillian Kenny secured the funding following their participation in the foundation’s Young Social Pioneers (YSP) program, the nation’s leading accelerator program for social entrepreneurs.

They were part of a group of 10 young innovators supported by PwC to take part in the intensive four month learning and mentoring journey to help them turn their aspirations for a better Australia into reality.

PwC Managing Partner Tony Peake said investing in new STEM ideas is key to fostering future prosperity, economic growth and social wellbeing.

“It’s estimated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations require science, technology, engineering and maths skills, yet only 16% of Australia’s tertiary graduates are from STEM degrees,” Mr Peake said.

“At PwC we think it’s critical to support young people to build the skills they’ll need to compete in the future world of work.

“We are excited about supporting these Young Social Pioneers who will contribute to building Australia’s pipeline of problem solvers and innovators skilled in STEM.”

FYA CEO Jan Owen AM, said the winners were now well equipped to drive real change through their ventures.

“The Young Social Pioneers program is all about investing in young people to develop the skills and risk-taking behaviour needed to bring their ideas to life,” she said.

“Today’s winners are amongst a very impressive bunch of 52 social innovators who will all walk away from the YSP program much richer from the experience.

“Backing all of these young people is an important part of the investment pipeline that is needed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in young Australians so they can drive our economy forward and build the jobs and opportunities of the future.

“That’s why we need to back young people to develop a thirst for innovation and entrepreneurship – to create the new ventures and inventions that will drive economic and social progress for our nation.”

Biographies of winners:

Taj Pabari

Taj Pabari is a 15 year old Young Social Pioneer from Brisbane. He is an inventor, entrepreneur and educational pioneer with a passion for inspiring children in today’s emerging 21st Century Digital Economy discover the great world of entrepreneurship through technology and innovation. Taj is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fiftysix, his YSP project. Fiftysix is an exciting and interactive way for children to immerse themselves in innovative technology through continuous creation and entertaining education. He was also the Winner of The Australian Young Innovator of the Year for 2014.

Jillian Kenny

Jillian Kenny is a 29 year old Young Social Pioneer from Melbourne. She is co-founder of Power of Engineering, a national program that inspires young females to consider a career in engineering. She is also the Founding Director of Machinam, her YSP project. Machinam is a tech start-up that is transforming maths education for high school students. She was recently listed The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for her work in providing opportunities for females in engineering, maths and science professions. She has a background in civil engineering and is completing her PhD, investigating innovation in the Australian water sector.

Background on YSP:

FYA’s Young Social Pioneers program is the nation’s leading social innovation accelerator program, aimed at incubating the ideas of young people and building their skills to put their ideas into action.

YSP is Australia’s only fully-subsidised, intensive development program that works with Australia’s best and brightest young change-makers, aged between 18 and 29 years, allowing young people to showcase their ideas, foster entrepreneurship and risk-taking, and develop their plans under expert mentors.

The YSP alumni include social innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders from a range of backgrounds, who are passionate about making the world a better place and want to create that change by turning their ideas into action.

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