Supporting early-stage education innovation: 2019 Business Plan Competition

In just the second year, the EduGrowth LaunchPad Business Start business plan competition again highlighted the breadth of talent we have in the Australian ecosystem. We congratulate all the EdTech entrepreneurs, education change-makers and innovators who continuously strive to improve outcomes for learners.

Submissions were accepted from early September by individuals and teams, from across Australia.

Key points

  • Emerging themes
  • About the awards night
  • About the finalists
  • Dystech, 2019 Business Plan Competition winner

The business ideas needed to be innovative and created specifically for the education sector. They needed to highlight the impact the idea would have, demonstrate the effectiveness of the idea, as well as prove a clear understanding of the current market.

All submissions were assessed by a review panel that included representatives from EduGrowth foundation partner organisations Charles Sturt University, La Trobe University and Monash University. This process identified five outstanding finalists who then attended interviews with the judging panel prior to presenting their education innovations live in Melbourne or online.

Emerging themes

As submissions were reviewed in detail four key themes emerged. Startups and entrepreneurs were focussed on creating solutions for:

  • Course content markets
  • Student internships
  • STEM education, particularly training teachers, and
  • Mentorships related to career enablement

The review panel was very impressed with the quality of the submissions and have committed to providing personalised feedback to all applicants to help them progress and further their concepts.

Finals night

The finals and awards night was held Wednesday 30 October at La Trobe University CBD Campus in front of a crowded room. The evening offered a great opportunity for our members, applicants, judging panel, foundation partner representatives and supporters to network and celebrate early stage EdTech in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

We thank Victor Reynolds, Manager Learning Environments Solutions from La Trobe University for opening the evening. EduGrowth Managing Director David Linke MC’d the night, which included 5 minute pitches from each finalist and Q&A from the judging panel and audience.

Each finalist provided a great presentation, they each articulated their innovation, its benefits, target audience and business model well and answered thought-provoking questioning from the judging panel and the audience.

After the five pitches had concluded, the judging panel on the night, consisting of Pauline Farrell from Go TAFE, Warwick Freeland from IDP Education, Georgina McCann from Global Victoria and Angelo Nardozza from Keypath Education left the room with EduGrowth’s David Linke to deliberate over the pitches and debate the merits of each presentation, considering the innovation and business opportunity. This process identified not only our winner, but two runner-ups!! 

We congratulate Hugo Richard from Dystech on winning the 2019 EduGrowth Business Start business plan competition. We also congratulate our two runner-ups: David Lee from GI Jamie and Nicole Marshall (& Kern Mangan-Walker) from Grasshopper as well as our finalists Christopher Drake from CoursewareMarket and Ruwangi Fernando from STEM Sisters.

Our winners & finalists


Dystech is a mobile app based assessment for dyslexia. The innovation will minimise the lengthy months-long wait of diagnoses and costs only a fraction of the traditional assessment methods. Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects one in five children. Utilising artificial intelligence, Dystech will enable educators, parents and professionals to easily assess the likelihood of dyslexia with high accuracy in just 15 minutes. 

GI Jamie

GI Jamie is an online learning platform that teaches coding to primary school students and teachers. Learning to code is part of the digital curriculum, has been identified as a key ‘21st century’ skill, and one that primary school teachers often have no experience or confidence teaching. GI Jamie provides content, assessments and tools for teachers to track student progress, provide feedback, mapped to the digital curriculum, and at a much lower cost than alternative teacher upskilling.


Grasshopper is an early learning HaaS that combines technology and STEM learning with active play. Importantly it eliminates the sedentary element of screen time that can lead to cognitive and language delays. Targeted initially for use in Early Learning Centres who must juggle the conflicting mandate of technology-based learning with parental concerns. The innovation uses Bluetooth, tactile experience, active play and skill-based learning, and draws on research that combined active play and learning provides significant positive impacts on young children. 


CoursewareMarket is a marketplace that facilitates the connection between RTOs that want to sell or buy course material (aligned to the ASQA standards). The innovation leverages the cost and administration savings that RTOs would otherwise need to invest in order to keep their training material current and relevant to meet increasing compliance standards.

STEM Sisters

STEM Sisters is a not-for-profit mentoring program aimed at International female students promoting careers in STEM. The program responds to the rapidly increasing and forecasted demand for STEM related employment and the current underrepresentation of women, and more specifically, women of colour in the industry. The STEM Sisters web platform matches mentors and mentees based on areas of interest and career goals.

Our judging panel

We thank our judging panel for lending their education and innovation sector expertise to provide invaluable feedback to each finalist. We thank them for attending the interviews with each finalist and for attended our finals night and importantly for determining which of these very worthy submissions would become our winner and represent Australia at the GSE Milken-Penn Business Plan Competition in 2020.

Ryan O’Hare
Keypath Education

Pauline Farrell

Warwick Freeland
IDP Education

Georgina McCann
Global Victoria

Angelo Nardozza
Keypath Education

The prizes awarded to our winners and finalists included cash prizes to advance the business idea as well as mentoring sessions from an EduGrowth mentor and AWS credits all designed to help further the EdTech business. We thank AWS EdStart, an EduGrowth strategic partner for their support of Australian EdTech.