Teamwork: School groups collaborate within the challenge to reach solutions. Photo: SUPPLIED

Upstart is back on

February 25, 2021 BY

PREPARING the workforce’s next generation for innovation and critical thinking, the Upstart Challenge is returning in 2021 to engage and strengthen Ballarat’s school students.

Encouraging entrepreneurial mindsets, the program asks participating young people to develop STEM-centric products that could solve and help with real-world problems.

Renewable energy technology, an open-water rescue watch, an environmental app, and a community activity program are just some of the solutions pitched at the end of past Upstart Challenges.

Co-founder and director Jenny Perks said resilience, initiative, proactivity are important skills for young people to have, especially in the current global climate and health crises.

“The entrepreneurial journey they go through in the Upstart Challenge is all about taking feedback from others, and adapting what you’re doing so you can be resilient for the future,” she said.

“It gives young people employability skills for the future where they can consider starting their own business as a viable career option… and the skills are generic and because it’s based around student interests and passions, giving them agency over where to take solutions.

“If they want to go into general employment or tertiary education…creative thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork, are very solid skills workplaces are looking for.”

The Upstart Challenge usually culminates in a pitch showcase, where students can share their solutions and network with businesspeople throughout Ballarat.

The program is developed with the Australian year 8 to 10 curriculum in mind.

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