There is something thrilling and very Australian about the St George Kickstarter grants. Sitting in the audience, headphone clad, watching the 60 second pitches at TEDxSydney 2019 was to celebrate the free enterprise spirit that founded this country. The literally large cheques awarded to the winners and runner ups, the much needed adrenaline shot to take these brilliant ideas to the world.
The structure changed this year with two categories. First was the New Business Idea. There were five finalists. Public speaking is never easy, but to present a complex innovation in just 60 seconds, adds a whole other degree of difficulty. I’m reminded of Steven Spielberg’s famous quote: “If a person can tell me the idea in 25 words or less, it’s going to make a pretty good movie.” It was clear by the end that all five were going to make pretty good businesses. Stand outs: Soundtrack, a sound based railway inspection system to monitor track sounds in real-time, avoiding dangerous and costly derailments; Contactile who pitched a robotic gripper that mimics the nuances of the human hand, solving critical problems like fruits and vegetables rotting unpicked due to worker shortage.
And the $40,000 winner was: Get To Sleep Easy. Driven and inspired by his own experience as a medical student and cancer patient, Nikhil Autar designed the Smart Inclining Bed, which sits on top of a regular bed, effectively converting it into an affordable hospital bed. It allows patients to safely sit up, avoiding accidents and offering essential relief for illnesses like pneumonia. The $10,000 runner up was Leakster for their water distribution monitoring system able to quickly locate pipeline leaks.
Category 2 focused on an Idea to Grow an Existing Business. Produce related innovations featured. Tiliter pitched a way to identify fruits and vegetables at the retail checkout eliminating the need to wrap them in plastic or leaving them loose, the cause of much retail theft. And Myriad Technologies who came up with a light based sensor able to precisely detect contaminants in food and our environment.
Pointer Remote Roles took the first prize with an always welcome revolutionary idea in recruitment. Their development connects highly skilled regional workers with city companies. Physiotherapy Innovations took second place with a device to open the airways, improving ventilation to the lungs and efficiently removing secretions.
Each and every pitch was a “yes, we need that” innovation, brilliantly researched, tried and tested. All they needed was St George and the TEDxSydney hub stage. We know that 60% of small business’ fail in the first three years, due to a lack of capital. Grants like Kickstarter make a mighty contribution to our thriving start-up culture, but also their small business loan services that help adequately determine funding needs. Check them out: They offer professional guidance for new ventures, including a database of available forms of venture capital.