The 2020 National Brilliant Business Kids Festival

We have so many great memories from the 2020 National Brilliant Business Kids Festival. We are beyond grateful for all the support that the event has seen over the past three years. Our goal was to ignite a flame of innovation within each student who went through the Entrepreneurial Learning in Action program, to truly change the way young people are educated moving forward and highlight the potential of student-led ideas.

In its third consecutive year the Brilliant Business Kids Festival gathered young innovators and entrepreneurs from around Australia on November 27. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the festival was held in an interactive online medium.

Founder of the festival, serial entrepreneur Jo Burston, founded alongside academic the late Dr Richard Seymour to deliver entrepreneurial learning in action programs to school students. Disrupting education seemed like the obvious way to deal with a world of work that is full of disruption. Students attending the festival had taken part in the program in 2020.

The day began with an acknowledgement of the country. The Honourable Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education and member for the district of Wannon sent his best wishes to all of the students for a successful event. Jo Burston contributed her opening and welcoming remarks. The tenacity of the students was recognised by everyone involved in the program in 2020. Students have been thrown so many obstacles in 2020 and yet, in November, these student groups succeeded in showing innovation to find ways of overcoming all of these obstacles to participate in the Brilliant Business Kids festival.

Masterclass: “Strategizing for Start-ups”

Speaker – Steven Maguire – Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Fellow of Multidisciplinary Innovation – The University of Sydney Business School.

The University of Sydney generously continued their support of the festival in 2020.

Masterclass: “7 Steps To Business Success”

Speaker – Lali Wiratunga – National Manager – Westpac’s Davidson Institute.

Masterclass: “Taking the next steps”

Speaker – Brian Dorricott CSIRO Lead Facilitator ON Accelerator Lean Innovation and Startup Programs – Data Science and Innovation Specialist – Meteorical.

National Pitch Competition

It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the learnings, outcomes and successes of the program with government, academia and industry. Finalists who pitched were:

  • St Phillip’s College
  • York District High School (Recorded)
  • Karoonda Area School (Recorded)
  • Denison College Kelso High Campus
  • St Joseph’s Lochinvar
  • Great Lakes College Foster
  • Gorokan High School


1st Michaela Doungmanee, ‘Diet at Your Door’ – Denison College Kelso High Campus

2nd (tied) Emily Pockett, Emily Mudford, Angelina Sater, and Dakoda Miggines, ‘Hunter Valley Shiftlifts’ – St Joseph’s College Lochinvar

2nd (tied) Tom Williams and Samantha Gywnne, ‘H2O Electro’ – Great Lakes College (Forster Campus)

In recognition of this educational experience we awarded students with a Brilliant Business Kids 2020 badge. This badge is a micro-credential that can be shared on LinkedIn or Facebook and other social media where their achievement can be celebrated by friends, family and the community.

Teachers and schools that participated are able to display the certification too. Participants completed the quiz and received a Canvas confirmation email. They then shared the badge on their favourite social media platform in public mode, or in private mode with their close friends.

“The girls were so excited… Thank you for organising today’s event and the pitch competition. It was a wonderful opportunity for our students and one they won’t forget.” – Helen Murray, Teacher, St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar, NSW November 2020.

“Thanks for all your organisation over the year with this program. It has been a tremendous success at our school.” – Scott Keough Careers Adviser, Great Lakes College, Forster Campus NSW, November 2020.

Outcomes (please create visual icons of the program’s outcomes data).


This program has a focus on connecting students with mentors. Research shows that young people are more likely to succeed when they have strong mentors. This Agrifutures Australia program connects expert mentors with young men and women in rural areas to inspire rural youth to follow innovative and entrepreneurial careers.

Research presented in the Women in STEM Decadal Plan (Australian Academy of Science 2019) shows evidence of the importance of mentors by stating, “Men’s mentors are typically better placed to advocate for their mentees so men receive more promotions and salary increases early in their career.”

The report goes on to show, “The mapping phase of this project found that fewer than 5% of the initiatives to support women’s participation in STEM in Australia include mentoring.” However, as we can see from the Karoonda Area School feedback, mentor connections are one of the major strengths of the Agrifutures Learning in Action Program. Karoonda Area School alone connected their students with five agricultural mentors, both men and women.

The long term positive impacts of connection with mentors can often become clear many years later. Madeleine Gottlieb was one of the top HSC graduates in 2010 who now, 10 years later, writes and directs films. She says her advice for career success is to connect with mentors, “It’s not a solo pursuit – it’s meeting the people you connect with on that creative level, holding onto them at all costs,” (December 2020, Sydney Morning Herald). Therefore, positive long term impacts of mentors are shown in research and in anecdotal evidence.

In 2021 the program will continue to arrange mentor sessions with participants. As in the examples from Karoonda Area School, the program has focused on connecting students with mentors who are business and agriculture leaders in their local area. This ensured that mentors were able to give advice about local solutions to local problems while also creating relationships that would continue in the community in the future.

Looking forward to 2021

In Term 1 2021 our professional development days are going ahead as “blended” events now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing. On the 11th and 12th February teachers can come to Sydney Startup Hub to participate face-to-face or via Zoom. The advantages of this system are that teachers can participate from all over Australia without taking extra travel time to fly across the country. For those teachers who love the atmosphere of face-to-face networking we will deliver an exciting program while following best practice guidelines for social distancing at the Hub.

Leigh Morgan, December 2020