The Australian Innovation Challenge

If you have a great idea, there is $65,000 to make it happen.


shell innovation challenge



If you’re the innovator behind a breakthrough in a field such as minerals and energy, agriculture, health or education, you should enter the $65,000 The Australian Innovation Challenge.



Brought to you by The Australian in association with Shell and with the support of the federal Department of Industry and Science, the awards are helping to push some of the nation’s best ideas to commercialisation or adoption.

Now in its fifth year, the Challenge has attracted entries from researchers in laboratories and start-up companies around the country, from people making a difference in university lecture theatres, schools and the community, and from backyard heroes inventing in their spare time.

Innovation means “ideas successfully applied” or “good ideas put to work”. It creates value by doing things differently. It occurs when a novel product or service attracts the support of customers or end users – replacing something that wasn’t as good or clearing the way to do something that was previously impossible.

Previous entrants in the Challenge have built on Australia’s proud history of innovation to tackle the big problems – food, water and energy security, biodiversity conservation, health, social inequality and the need to transform the manufacturing sector.

Some are already reaping the rewards of the Challenge – prestige and publicity as well as much-needed prize money.


Prize Categories

The awards have eight cash prizes:

  • Five professional categories each carries a prize of $5000. The overall winner will receive a further $25,000.
  • The Backyard Innovation category is open to the public, and the winner will take out $10,000 in prize money.
  • The Young Innovators category, carrying a $5000 prize, is open to students aged 21 years and under.


Previous Recipients

Antony Schinckel and his team at the CSIRO won the Manufacturing, Construction and Infrastructure prize and the coverall prize in the professional categories last year for the world’s most powerful radio telescope – the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder – in outback Western Australia.

Sydney inventor Chris Wilkins won the Backyard Innovation category with PodPlants – an aeroponic system to grow “greenwalls” in office blocks by suspending plants in nutrient-laden mist.

And Brisbane school student Taj Pabari won the Young Innovators category with ImaginTech an educational tablet kit designed to teach children about computer hardware and software.



Closes 17 August 2015.


The 2015 Winners and Their Projects

The winners of The Australian Innovation Challenge Awards for each category are:

  • Overall winner and Health : Professor Robert McLaughlin, Microscope in a needle
  • Environment, Agriculture and Food: Tim O’Hare, Zeaxanthin-biofortified sweet corn
  • Minerals and Energy: Michael Ottaviano, Perth Wave Energy Project
  • Manufacturing, Construction and Infrastructure: Shi Yin, Recycled Plastic fibre to reinforce concrete
  • Education and Community Services: Juliette Wright, GIVIT
  • Backyard Innovation: Cameron Ryan, Hydrawise : WiFi Smart Irrigation Controller
  • Young Innovators: Monica David, Rumbl mobile app

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