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Seven digital innovators named Future Makers at Optus pitch day

Seven digital innovators have been awarded a combined $300,000 at the Optus Future Makers pitch event, with a range of startups focusing on issues from youth education to healthcare crowned this year’s Future Makers.

In March this year social impact accelerator One10 partnered with Optus to support the Future Makers program. The program called for entrepreneurs to take part in its innovation challenge to digitally change the social landscape. Startups taking part looked to solve social issues facing vulnerable or disadvantaged youth, and young people aged between 4 and 26 who face significant challenges.

Innovators had just 180 seconds to pitch and secure their share of the $300,000 funding pot, with seven out of eleven walking away with up to $50,000 in grants. Each startup pitched to a panel of experienced industry leaders including Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan, founder of One10 Geoff Gourley and Daniel Flynn, founder of Thankyou Group.

“This program is about helping Australia’s innovators to make a positive social impact through the use of technology,” said O’Sullivan.

“We know how important technology is in people’s daily lives, and with Future Makers we are specifically targeting projects that will benefit marginalised and vulnerable youth.”

Future Makers winners include:

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Teleport: Founded by Marita Cheng, Teleport is an affordable and telepresence robot that allows young people with a spinal cord injury or a debilitating disease to attend school or participate in the workforce by working remotely.

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Guide Dots: Founded by Colin Jowell, Guide Dots is an audio-based app for the visually impaired. It enables young people with vision impairment to independently discover the world around them and engage with their social environment.

iWareness: Founded by Penny Harnett, iWareness is an app that provides information to young people of both genders to help them recognise and respond to and change attitudes towards domestic violence.

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Biz: Founded by Marina Paronetto, Biz is a peer-to-peer mobile app designed to give teenage girls of all backgrounds an equal opportunity to learn about business and enhance their skills set and employability.

The Game Change: Founded by Dr Rowan Tulloch, The Game Change is software that helps university and school teachers to better engage and motivate their students through gamified lessons. It assists students who are marginalised by traditional teaching practices.

Following a unanimous decision by the judging panel, two finalists who pitched separately were offered $50,000 funding to share if they agreed to collaborate and bring their ideas to life as a single innovation:

The Wellbeing Coach: Founded by Brian Collyer, The Wellbeing Coach is an app/web portal that gives young people access to information and resources to enhance communication in the counselor and client relationship.

New Futures for Young People: Founded by Rhianon Vichta, New Futures for Young People is an integrated online platform that promotes and measures wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable young people.

Image: Winners of Optus Future Makers and judges. Source: Supplied.