NEXT Innovation: CSIRO, Westpac, IAG, and Deloitte collaborating with Universities to build Australia’s innovation skills

26 October 2016: 

Leading employers CSIRO, Westpac, IAG, and Deloitte have collaborated with five Universities nationally to mentor more than 350 multi-disciplinary students and mentors through ‘NEXT’, an accelerator program to develop the innovation skills of our next generation.

Having delivered two ‘Lean Launchpad’ accelerator programs in 2016, the program will close on Friday 28th October with the 2016 National Grand Final at Westpac Headquarters in Sydney from 9am. Student teams from three states will pitch concepts for startups, business and public good innovations that make a positive impact for Australia.

CSIRO Executive Director of Services, Dr Marcus Zipper said that: “NEXT aims to engage the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs and innovators; linking them with the great technologies available in CSIRO and our universities, and exposing them to the needs and interests of customers and investors. 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.”

Launched in 2016, NEXT aims to deliver technology innovation training and mentoring for thousands of students. The program has already been embedded into significant experiential learning and innovation programs at partner Universities including the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, Swinburne University and University of South Australia.

Siyu Wu, a University of Sydney alumnus who completed a pilot version of the program, is now employed as an international advisor in CSIRO’s ‘global’ team and facilitates one of the NEXT cohorts from The University of Sydney. She said: “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. That experience sparked a passion for innovation in me, and has led me to becoming part of Australia’s leading scientific organisation and a job I absolutely love.”

NEXT is managed by Sydney based experiential education startup Intersective. Intersective’s ‘project learning’ platform, Practera, helps all parties collaborate and stay on track – delivering thousands of datapoints to enhance learning, track performance and improve outcomes.

John Meacock, Chief Strategy Officer for Deloitte, added: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting program at Deloitte. We are absolutely committed to helping Australia’s businesses, government and universities build ideas for a better Australia. Collaboration and innovation are the ways we will make this happen. And ‘NEXT’ is a great multi-party initiative to build the innovation skills and potential necessary to ensure a vibrant and successful future for Australia.” 

Beau Leese, the creator of NEXT, co-founder & CEO of Intersective and an ex Head of Strategy for CSIRO, articulated the value of the program: Last year a Chief Scientist’s October 2015 report into entrepreneurship training in universities found examples of great University programs, but overall too few applied entrepreneurship programs operating at large scale. We want to provide a common platform for business and Universities to collaborate to lift the innovation skills of thousands of students and industry participants every year. We look forward to seeing the program grow and develop in 2017.” 

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