Students rise to the challenge with amazing ideas

Sunshine Coast Gramma School took out the top prize at the 2023 Mayors Telstra Innovation Awards

From a unique ocean cleaner, to a fix for the housing crisis and ‘Fundies’ underpants that help the injured and elderly, the Sunshine Coast’s young entrepreneurs and innovators are rising to the challenge.

The excitement is building as our latest cohort of visionaries in Years 9 to 12 move to the next phase of the prestigious Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards.

Finalists now have the opportunity to further develop their innovative concepts and entrepreneurial solutions, with the support of local industry mentors and specialists.

More than 12 mentors are supporting the students so far.

These include Manufacturing Excellence founding director Tim Kelly, Sunshine Coast Maker Space founder Dominic Vrolijks, Creative Collective founder Yvette Adams,  TAFE Qld’s Illana Boom and Saskia De Klerk from UniSC.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli, who was on the judging panel, said she was blown away by the calibre of ideas.

“From mobile ocean cleaning devices to self-sorting recycling bins utilising Artificial Intelligence, there was an impressive mix of ideas that can truly help make a positive impact to our region,” Mayor Natoli said.  

“The awards present a rare opportunity for student teams to bring their creative ideas or business solution to life and I’m looking forward to seeing these develop with the support of our amazing mentors.

“Whether they made it through to the next stage or not, I thank these students for their confidence to apply, and I encourage them to keep participating in programs like this to help them realise their dreams.”

Telstra Group Owner Digitisation Brent McArthur said he was super impressed with the range of out of the box thinking on display from the entrants.

“We saw quality ideas that could have a real positive impact on people’s lives and our environment,” Mr McArthur said.

“I can’t wait to see how the concepts evolve through some structured and targeted mentoring over the coming month.”

The judging panel from left to right Grui Education program director Tara Jacobsen Mayor Rosanna Natoli Council Head of Business Industry Development Tim McGee and Telstra Group Owner

Finalists and their amazing ideas (in no particular order):

Glasshouse Christian College

  • Fundies: Functional undies for the disabled, immobile or elderly.
  • Room Ready: A unique digital platform connecting consumers to retailers with a personalised shopping experience.
  • SAF3: A new safety indication system for firearms.

Immanuel Lutheran College

  • Block by Block: A sustainable housing and rental solution utilising decommissioned shipping containers
  • WongariWard: An ultrasonic dingo repellent bracelet.
  • Sustainable Sorts: A self-sorting recycling bin bristling with technology.

Matthew Flinders Anglican College

  • Reality Check: A unique online platform for secondary students with educational resources for real world preparation.

Mountain Creek State High School

  • DAN: A mountable pod attached to boats to passively collect floating waste.
  • Safety Assurance: AR and VR program developed to train users in manufacturing safety protocols.

Suncoast Christian College

  • Think Pad: A controlled learning tool to assist teachers in classrooms.
  • Auzzie Mozzie Mister: A safe and environmentally friendly spray application system to ward off mosquitos.
  • Power Perch: A wireless mobile computer charging device and storage dock.

At the conclusion of Phase 2, each team will then put forward a second submission, with all finalists invited to participate in a Live Pitch and Awards Ceremony on June 20 for their chance to win more than $10,000 in shared prizes.

Sunshine Coast Council is proud to partner with Telstra and Study Sunshine Coast to deliver the 2024 Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards exclusively to high school students within the Sunshine Coast Local Government Area.

The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards is a key initiative of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013 – 2033 and aims to foster innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people in the region.

For more, visit

Key dates:

Monday, April 22 – Finalist teams announced, Phase Two of the competition begins

Wednesday, May 1 – Mentor Workshop 1

Wednesday, May 15 – Mentor Workshop 2

Thursday, June 5 – Phase Two entries close

Thursday, June 20 – Live Pitch and Awards Ceremony



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