Innovative start-ups share “future makers” grant


Five start-ups from across Australia have been selected to receive a share of the $200,000 Optus Future Makers Grant to help bring their innovative business ideas to life.

The five finalists were chosen from among the many that have submitted their respective pitches and presented to an expert panel of Optus executives that included Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CEO, Richard Webby, MD Digital, Kate Aitken, VP HR, Andrew Buay, VP Group Sustainability and Helen Maisano, Director Optus Group Sustainability. Clive Dickens, VP TV, Content and Product Development was also involved in selecting the start-ups and presenting during the program.

Nitin Fernandez, Co-founder of the care and rehabilitation start-up Maslow received the top grant of $75,000 as well as winning the $10,000 People’s Choice Award which will go towards delivering a voice-enabled rehabilitation assistant for young people living with paralysis.

The other grant recipients are:

  • Narelle Priestley of AIBLE, a job search app that uses artificial intelligence to match abilities, personality types, experience, skills and certifications with job requirements.
  • Frances Atkins of givvable, a data-driven platform that helps companies find, source and track the impact of sustainable and social spending.
  • Bronwyn Covill of Need a Tutor, which helps address the problem of education for people living in rural and geographically isolated areas.
  • Clive Vaz of PeepsRide, which provides transport service to care organisations for the elderly and those with disabilities to get outdoors more often.

“We are incredibly proud of our Optus Future Makers program and our alumni of purpose-driven innovators,” Helen Maisano, Optus’ Director for Group Sustainability, said. “Now in its fourth year, it enables valuable opportunities to support innovation and purpose-driven social entrepreneurs to ensure they can make a positive social impact with the use of technology.

“Accessing technologies and bridging digital divides is core to driving what we do at Optus; improving the lives of those across the country, especially those disadvantaged and vulnerable,” Maisano added. “We look forward to experiencing the future innovations as part of this program, as its incredible to not only have the chance to mentor but take key learnings from these outstanding talents.”

Clive Dickens, Optus’ Vice President of Television, Content and Product Development said that the panel of experts were once again inspired by the range of meaningful and purpose-driven innovations the winners presented.

“Collaboration between established organisations and start-ups is critical to harnessing technology innovation in Australia,” Dickens said. “I can speak on behalf of the entire team on the panel that it has been a privilege to be a part of this program and drive technology innovation for social good.”