A full day of innovation and entrepreneurship for secondary students

Teachers and parents are invited to bring students to this hands on, exciting day that celebrates innovation, creative problem-solving and entrepreneurship during Global Entrepreneurship week.

For the second year, teenaged innovators and entrepreneurs gathered from all across Australia for masterclasses, panel discussions and a pitching competition as part of the National Brilliant Business Kids Festival on November 29.

Founder of the festival, serial entrepreneur Jo Burston, founded startup.business 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. Many of the students attending the festival had taken part in a startup.business program in 2019.

The day began with a VIP breakfast where Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Hon Geoff Lee MP, addressed a room full of students, teachers, business leaders and academics to share that he himself was limited at school and university by what he could study, because he learned far better by doing than by reading books. He and Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, both agreed that entrepreneurship and innovation were the way forward for students preparing for their working life.

We heard from teacher Richard Hainsworth who is pioneering entrepreneurial education with a sustainable impact, student Oliver Bora who started a business while still at school, and Dr Phil Lambert PSM, who is the lead curriculum expert to the OECD’s Education 2030 project.

Following the breakfast, the University of Sydney Business School hosted more than 100 students and teachers for a full day of masterclasses, workshops and panel discussions all focussed on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Sessions were led by: Liam Scanlan, Founder and Director at Eat Your Water and University of Newcastle Student Entrepreneur of the Year 2019, who spoke about finding your passion; Xavier Rizos, Entrepreneur in Residence, Westpac Innovation and Co-Founder of the Westpac Garage, whose topic was Complex Problem Solving; Aaron Tait, Co-Founder and Director of Innovation, Education Changemakers, ran a rapid hackathon to help students learn about Artificial Intelligence in partnership with Microsoft; Megan Petersen, Director Trailhead Evangelism at Salesforce, showed students how to skill up for jobs of the future; and Genevieve Radnan, Founder Gennarosity Abroad, shared her inspiring story of social impact. Brian Dorricott, CSIRO Lead Facilitator ON Accelerator Lean Innovation and Startup Programs, Founder Meteorical, was also on hand to teach students how to pitch an idea, which had students who were competing in the national pitch final later in the day frantically refining their presentations like true entrepreneurs!


The pitch competition was divided into two sessions: the AgriFutures program participants and then students from metropolitan who had focussed on the UN Sustainability Challenge. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the learnings, outcomes and success of the startup.business program with government, academia and industry. Finalists who pitched were:

Solving Agricultural Issues

• Paige Mercer, Gympie (State High School)  ‘Birds No More’

• Georgia MacGowan & Jorja Newlyn (Cleve Area School) ‘The Handy Trough’

• Erin Watherson & Chelsea Webb (Mount View High School) ‘Save the Waste’

• Millie Mitchell & Millie Coddington (Kinross Wolaroi School) ‘iscanner’

• Jess, Rayah, Chalm & Meegan (Manilla Central School) ‘Hydrocrate’

• Millie Sutherland (Manilla Central School) ‘Epirb’

Winner: Georgia MacGowan & Jorja Newlyn (Cleve Area School) ‘The Handy Trough’

Sustainable Solutions

• Jessica Best (St Catherine’s School Waverley) ‘SchoolTrade’

• Samuel, George, Dylan, Zachary, Kobe (St Mary’s Cathedral School) ‘Ace Consultants’

• Noah, Jayde, Jayden & Luka (Marcellin College Randwick) ‘Scoby & Co’

• Maria, Sophie, Sophie, Sophia, Georgia (Brigidine College Randwick) ‘Sunflower Solar Panels’

• Claudia, Ella, Tilly, Gabbie (St Clare’s College) ‘Linked Innovations’

Winner: Noah, Jayde, Jayden & Luka (Marcellin College Randwick) ‘Scoby & Co’

“What an uplifting experience to witness the energy and commitment, and the demonstration of innovative thinking on display at the Brilliant Business Kids Festival,” Phil Lambert said after the festival. “So many young entrepreneurs brought together to pitch their ideas in school groups from all schooling sectors and locations.

“This highly professional event confirmed the importance of giving our young people the opportunity to show their potential, through partnerships with local industries, and the application of what they learn in school to respond to real problems and needs in their local communities – creating new value and gaining the knowledge, skills and dispositions for successful entrepreneurial futures. Brilliant!”

With thanks to our 2019 partners:
Education and Event Partner
Program Partners
Festival Partners