Optus has opened applications to its four-month tech accelerator program – Future Makers – to start-ups, social entrepreneurs and charities.
Now in its third consecutive year, the program is seeking innovations that help solve issues for disadvantaged and vulnerable youths or adults around employability, education, health and empowering women and girls.
Australia’s start-ups and not-for-profit players are urged to apply to the programme, which includes eight days of workshops and a short series of webinars covering knowing your customer, the art of storytelling, marketing strategies, how to secure corporate and investor funding, managing stakeholders, project planning, financial modelling and measuring impact.
Participants will be coached by Optus and receive guidance from industry experts. There is then an opportunity for participants to polish their business case and perfect their pitch before presenting to a panel of judges representing different sectors.
Those on the program then have the chance to secure a share of $300,000 in funding over two stages: technology grants and pitch grants. Finalists then have the opportunity to apply for the (Optus parent company) Singtel Group Future Makers Program where up to two finalists will be selected to participate to help scale their solution.
“Technology has proliferated our lives – it’s changing the way we communicate, connect, learn and are entertained. It is vital that the most needy in our community are able to benefit from the advancements in technology in a way that supports their circumstances including finding employment, accessing health services and education,” said John Paitaridis, managing director for Optus Business.
Previous recipients of Future Makers funding include Melbourne-based Aubot, makers of an Australian-developed telepresence robot that allows people with limited upper limb mobility to attend work or school remotely; Gold Coast app start-up Virtual Psychologist which connects mental health professional with users to provide on-demand text-based counselling; and subscription textbook service Learner Library.
“The program is designed to give applicants who are on the cusp of developing or have a working prototype solution an opportunity to build on their skills and provide networking opportunities to help reach their goals,” said Helen Maisano, director, group sustainability at Optus.
“Our past Future Makers finalists have developed solutions that positively affect communities and for example have supported people with a disability, mental health and education for young people,” she added.
Applicants should visit the Future Makers website before May 18 to apply.