Young minds, big ideas: supporting our next generation innovators

Published: 
12 February 2016

The future looks bright if the participants at the recent BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards and Invention Convention have anything to do with it.

Both these events support young innovators to hone their innovation skills, put their ideas to the test and challenge all of us to think outside the box. Our own Matt Lee was excited to work alongside these students and help them understand the role intellectual property (IP) plays in their ideas.

The BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards are Australia’s most prestigious school science awards. This year, 26 students were selected to attend the Award’s bootcamp in Melbourne where amongst participating in a range of development activities, like our ‘Ins and Outs of IP’ workshop, would also discover exactly whose research project would take out the top prizes. This year’s winners included:

  • Hannah Sutton who investigated a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s using a peptide, Caerin 1.9, found in the skin glands of the Australian tree frog.
  • Macinley Butson who developed a cheap and easy to use solar energy system for use in developing countries that also produces clean water.
  • Hugh McKay who designed a cheap 3D-printed prosthetic to help children amputees in third world countries to grasp tools and continue their work on their family farms.

All the winners (and all of the finalists) displayed an amazing array of innovative projects and ideas, and according to Matt we can expect to see more of them in the future!

The Invention Convention is a week-long boot camp for students aged 13 to 17 years old. This year, they spent the week conceiving ideas around the theme of assistive technologies, prototyping and building their inventions, and honing their business and marketing skills.

Matt again got amongst it teaching students the basics of intellectual property and the first steps they could take to identify and protect their own IP. Engaging this next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs will hopefully set them up for success later in life.

The convention culminated in an inspiring presentation showcase and gala dinner with all students showing their inventions to excited guests and industry representatives, including Assistant Minister for Innovation, the Hon Wyatt Roy MP, Director of Questacon Graham Durant, Craig Connelly from the Ian Potter Foundation, and our own Director General, Patricia Kelly.

IP Australia was proud to be associated with both these events. You can learn more about them at BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards and Invention Convention.