Optus Hunt for Tech Solutions to Help Young People

Telco giant Optus is on the hunt for technology solutions that will change the lives of young people, with the launch of its second annual Future Makers program.

Optus is calling on charities, social entrepreneurs and social enterprises to submit innovative technology ideas which have the potential to contribute to the employability, education and wellbeing for disadvantaged young people.

Optus says up to 12 Future Makers finalists will earn a place in a four month accelerator program which will provide practical advice, mentoring from industry leaders and networking opportunities and a share of $300,000 to help make their idea a reality.

Associate director of corporate social responsibility at Optus Helen Maisano said: “Australia is home to a strong community of start-ups and charities that have remarkable ideas for driving social change.

“We believe that by harnessing the power of technology and leveraging our resources we can help turn bold ideas into digital solutions which improve the lives of young people.

“Throughout this year’s accelerator program, Optus will provide Future Makers with advice on how to develop a business case and pitch for funding as well as practical support with designing and building technology and prototypes.”

She said that during the program, which runs between July and October, the finalists will have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of expert judges for a share in a $300,000 prize pool.

“There will be an opportunity for Future Makers to pitch for funding towards building a technology prototype halfway through the program and an opportunity to pitch again at the end of the program for further funding to progress their technology solution for disadvantaged youth,” Maisano said.

Entrants have until 5 May 2017 to apply for the Future Makers program by submitting a technology solution which will improve outcomes for disadvantaged young people in at least one of the following areas:

  • employability – solutions that improve young people’s job opportunities or advance their career prospects
  • education – solutions that improve young people’s education options or enable them to pursue higher studies
  • wellbeing – ideas that have the potential to enhance young people’s mental wellbeing, build resilience or encourage them to use social media responsibly.

“Last year’s Future Makers set the bar high with innovations including a telepresence robot, an app which teaches young women business skills and a virtual wellbeing coach,” Maisano said.

“We look forward to seeing the bold ideas that this year’s Future Makers put forward and the difference they make to the lives of young people.”

Applicants must have a basic prototype to support their idea. For more information on Future Makers email [email protected] or visit the website.