Finance app for children wins innovation program

Original article posted here on on July 6, 2016

A conceptual banking app for children, pitched by a team of Business School Master of Management CEMS students, has won the 2016 ‘NEXT’ innovation program. The banking app, dubbed ‘GoKoala’, was pitched as a children’s financial savings assistant for Westpac. The idea was conceived by CEMS students Simon Gautherin, Cristina Di Vincenzoo, Shiwei Yang, and Yifei Wu, as the final product of the program.

NEXT is a collaborative training program between universities and businesses that provides practical experience in business innovation as a 12 week unit of study, organised by Sydney start-up, Intersective.

The team was mentored by Westpac’s Arnie Meier and Danny Tan to pitch their idea against 250 other students from participating universities with mentors from across the industry.

“I’d say positive energy is what it took to win because it’s a challenging process to go through – thankfully our mentors from Westpac were there to support us right through to the end,” said Simon Gautherin.

CSIRO Executive Director of Services, Dr Marcus Zipper, said the program exposes the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs to the needs and interests of customers, while linking them with university and CSIRO technology.

“We want this program to equip more of our future workforce with the skills to create and reinvent high-technology industries and companies – whether that be as entrepreneurs, or intrapreneurs,” said Dr Zipper.

University of Sydney Business School teams have won previous pilot versions of the program, formerly known as FASTRACK. One of the previous winning team members, Siyu Wu, is now an international advisor for CSIRO and mentor in the NEXT program.

“Taking part in the program was an incredibly valuable learning experience. We had many ideas that failed before we came up with a more robust concept and won,” said Ms Wu. “That experience sparked a passion for innovation in me, and has led me to become part of Australia’s leading scientific organisation in a job I absolutely love.”

The University of Sydney Business School is Australia’s only CEMS accredited institution.

Business Education Professor, Marc Jones, said the program was central to enhancing Australia’s innovation capabilities.

“NEXT offers our students the opportunity to develop the innovation skills that will be so important in their future careers, and to apply these in a real world context with organisations like Deloitte, CSIRO, IAG, and Westpac,” said Professor Jones.

“Congratulations to all the University of Sydney teams, finalists, and the overall winner ‘GoKoala’ from our Masters of Management CEMS cohort,” said Professor Jones.

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