An app that provides a “life coach in your pocket” and a virtual reality simulator that gives users an immersive experience of being harassed are among the solutions of seven social entrepreneurs named as finalists in Optus’ Future Makers tech accelerator program.
The four-week program, now in its third year, will see the seven start-ups get coached by industry experts and attend workshops, before pitching to a panel of judges in October for a share of $300,000 in funding.
After the program, two of the finalists will be selected to join Singtel Group’s separate Future Makers program and further scale up their solution.
“It’s exciting to see this year’s finalists leverage technology advancements to help those who are most needy in our communities. I am proud of our commitment to supporting innovation and social entrepreneurship, both through funding and access to our expert resources,” said managing director, Optus Business John Paitaridis.
The finalists are:
Rory Darkins, (NSW) ‘What’s Right – Thrive’ – a “life coach-in-your pocket”. The app empowers users to become the best version of themselves and helps remove barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from accessing the support they need to thrive, Darkins said.
Chris Boyle, (QLD) – ‘Commsync’ works to assist those experiencing domestic violence by connecting vulnerable community members to their safety network, through the push of a button.
Dr Stefan Schutt, (VIC) – ‘vPlay’ is an online program that helps people with Autism who have trouble mastering social interaction and difficulty finding jobs. It provides simulated role plays with virtual characters, which can be accessed and edited via any web browser.
Chris Smeed, (QLD) – ‘ImmCalc’ is an application that automates complex immunisation schedules for refugees, migrants and others needing catch-up vaccines, making it easier to ensure vulnerable patients are protected against preventable diseases.
Michael Tozer, (NSW) – ‘Xceptional’ is a technology services firm which recognises the unique strengths of people with Autism such as pattern recognition, sustained concentration and precision, qualities closely aligned with IT roles.
Rick Martin, (NSW) – ‘Equal Reality’ allows users to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand what it’s like to be discriminated or harassed” through virtual reality. Equal Reality provides computer generated, interactive scenarios to help people understand and help deliver diversity and inclusion training.
Michael Metcalfe (QLD) – ‘Kynd’ is a mobile app based solution that matches disadvantaged locals with professional needs based support. As individuals have specific requirements or preferences when being cared for, Kynd helps users find a perfect professional match based on personality, location, budget, interests, skills, training and experience.
“Collaboration between established organisations and start-ups is critical to us harnessing innovation in Australia, and using innovation for social good is even more important,” Paitaridis added.
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.
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