The Techstars Sustainability Startup Weekend took place this weekend 5-7 August and saw three female-led startups take out the top three spots.

Sunday night six teams delivered final pitches to a crowd of around 60 people at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Innovation Centre, bringing the Sunshine Coast’s seventh annual Startup Weekend event to a close.

The winning concept was originally conceived by Elana Morrow, Sunshine Coast physiotherapist. Morrow refined the idea with her team of four over the three-day event. ASI Score is a travel planning and review website that is designed to assist people with visible and invisible disabilities to plan their next adventure.

ASI Score is a badge of honour for business. The clear and concise rating system acts as the first port of call for organising community outings and travel for people with disabilities. The ASI Score rates how well the establishment meets the Accessibility, Sensory needs and their level of Inclusivity

Since winning Morrow has met with numerous Government officials who are encouraging of the concept.

“Through Silicon Coast I have managed to network and connect with the most amazing people on the Sunshine Coast who are generous in spirit and skills, and I am excited to see this idea happen”.

With around 1 in 6 (18%) people in Australia – or about 4.4 million – having a disability (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022) the Startup Weekend Judges were surprised a solution like ASI Score didn’t already exist.

Impressed with the diversity of the teams Charlotte Connell, Startup Weekend judge and Director of Climate Tech Ecosystems for Climate Salad stating “Innovation is all about creating solutions to problems and if only one demographic creates the solutions, it isn’t a solution for everyone”.

All teams worked on startup ideas to change the world we live in, each aligning to the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Ideas were diverse and ranged from a platform to help parents with fussy eaters called ‘Fiddly Food’, to an Augmented Reality solution which acknowledges and pays respect to First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land called ‘Connect2Country’.

Silicon Coast’s Startup Weekend provided attendees a risk free way to dip their toe into entrepreneurship, work with local business people and entrepreneurship enthusiasts to tackle challenging global challenges in an engaging and meaningful way.

“The Sustainable Development Goals is a unifying framework where young people from diverse disciplines – from business, journalism, allied health and more – worked together and came up with solutions to these problems,” Dr Retha de Villiers Scheepers, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation said. “The weekend is such a great learning opportunity and enhances employability, as students form great connections to industry professionals.”

“The problems participants worked on over the weekend matters not only as startups, but also as research priorities. We know that innovative startup founders who commercialise novel research findings, tend to grow and create jobs. Therefore with the support of the Queensland Government, providing a $200,000 youth research grant, we are able to support students to continue working on areas they are interested in for the rest of this year, and extend the runway.”

Kick starting 54 action packed hours of hands-on entrepreneurship, the Friday night more than 80 people, with 15 ideas pitched and 6 teams forming. Over the weekend three workshops and 10 mentors helped transform their bright ideas into reality, with team formation, user research, prototyping and pitching to investors.

When reflecting on the weekend Startup Weekend sunshine Coast 2022 Facilitator, Jasmin Ward stated “I was pleasantly surprised how mature the ecosystem is. That perfect mix of government interacting with universities, who are interacting with industry and founders. That’s what Israel did, and how entrepreneurial ecosystem becomes awesome and mature, through that collaboration. I honestly haven’t seen that since going to Israel”

The problems we face today are existential for the planet and for people. We need radically different thinking and solutions, and innovation will get us there. Silicon Coast director, Simon Kaplan, CEO, Australia at TheUrban Institute explained that Startup Weekends are about promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship and invention on the Coast. Sunshine Coast is so full of creative people, and startup weekends foster community and create real outcomes for the coast and its economy.

Additional event supporters include University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council, Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast, Shadstone Films, TAFE Queensland, Startup Precinct, Noosa Biosphere, WOTSO Workspace, Sunshine Coast Maker Space, OfficeWorks Warana and Maroochydore, Banjo’s Bakery Sippy Downs, Vitality Village and Thank You Australia.

Download Media Release 10/08/2022

Alex Easton ABC Sunshine Coast Interview with Elana Morrow, Spirit of the Weekend recipient and Startup Weekend 2022 Winning Team, ASI Score

Photo Credits go to Cody Osborne, Shadstone Films