ANU entrepreneurs recognised at InnovationACT awards

ANU entrepreneurs recognised at InnovationACT awards
ANU entrepreneurs recognised at InnovationACT awards

Three teams of student entrepreneurs from the Australian National University were amongst five local start-ups who were recognised at the InnovationACT Awards Night., OMNIA Protocol and Support a Star were each awarded a share of the $50,000 InnovationACT grant pool, to help further develop their innovative ventures.

The program consists of an intensive ten-week program where teams work together to develop their innovative business ideas, involving workshops, mentorship, and a public pitching event.

Dr Charles Gretton, Lecturer and Head of the ANU TechLauncher program, was thrilled that each team had students from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS).

“I’m continually blown away by the outstanding talent and innovation exhibited by the ANU TechLauncher cohort and CECS students, and by the degree to which teams engage with the innovation activities in Canberra, and around the world.”

John Forbes, a postgraduate student from the ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science, and co-founder of, hopes their grant will help the team bring their venture to a reality.

“The grant will allow us to go from being a group of students with some idea and interesting toys, to delivering real value to some customers. And hopefully from that, we can grow and go do all the other interesting things that we’re hoping to achieve,” said Forbes.

Forbes’ team is developing an artificial intelligence-supported platform that they hope can be utilised by land developers and local councils to maintain cities.

“What we’re hoping to do, as a grand vision, is work towards building that better future where the benefits of technology far outweigh the risk and negatives,” said Forbes.

Jonathan Walker, also a postgraduate student from the ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science and co-founder of Support a Star, feels the award provided important validation for their team.

“We were absolutely stoked that among the impressive line-up of pitches delivered on pitch night that our business idea was selected by the judges. It feels like it gives our business more credibility and has really motivated us to take the next steps with the business,” said Walker.

Walker’s team is developing a platform to help small businesses better support, and recognise the value out of sponsoring, promising young athletes.

“We want to use the grant to further our goals of supporting athletes and getting businesses recognition for this support along with the positive influence this will have on community,” said Walker.

It wasn’t only the winners taking to the stage at the awards night. The ANU Laptop Ensemble (LENS) performed for attendees; LENS owes much to Dr Ben Swift, and to their tutor and mentor Dr Alec Hunter.  

InnovationACT is made possible with thanks to Major Partners University of Canberra, IP Australia, ACT Government, the Canberra Innovation Network, as well as many Supporter organisations around the Canberra region. To learn more about InnovationACT, visit

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