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La Trobe University has not only made the finals of the prestigious The Big Idea Competition, but is the only university in Australia to have two teams come through the semi-final round and into the 2016 grand final of the nationwide competition.

Social Entrepreneurship program

For several years now, La Trobe Business School has offered participation in The Big Idea Competition to students from all over the university as an elective part of their undergraduate curriculum. The competition, initiated by The Big Issue, aims to find and deliver solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives. In 2016, more than 100 business plans from students were submitted from more than 11 universities throughout Australia and this year La Trobe had 17 teams and 66 undergraduate students enter the competition.

Embedded in a La Trobe Business School subject, Social Entrepreneurship: The Big Idea, the competition sees students collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams to design their own social enterprise – a commercial enterprise which creates social value – under the guidance of entrepreneurship expert LBS Professor of Practice Antony Jacobson  and with strong support from teaching and professional staff across the university. The best project is then chosen via a round of internal judging, before being formally submitted to the Big Idea competition. In 2016 La Trobe University got the added advantage of having one further team selected as a wild card entry based on merit by the Big Idea judges.

“Seeing students from different disciplines work together to make a positive change is a great way for them to learn,” Professor of Practice Antony Jacobson said. “Not to mention that the competition values align very closely with our own La Trobe Business School values of responsible leadership and social entrepreneurship. On top of this, it locks in seamlessly with the broader values of La Trobe University – we want to make a difference.”

Free Moora Moora & HomeMore 

The 2016 teams from La Trobe University that have made the final are Free Moora Moora (FMM) and HomeMore.

After seeing the disturbing footage of the treatment of imprisoned children from the Don Dale Detention Centre on Four Corners, two LBS event management students Teagan Giggins and Keeliah Frost developed FMM to help lower recidivism rates among young Indigenous people, and reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in jails and detention centres.

The students were inspired by recent research conducted on emotional intelligence in aged care facilities at La Trobe University. The research focussed on equipping nursing staff with the right tools to manage emotional labour and stress through training. Encouraged by the positive results of this initiative, both students saw an opportunity for providing emotional intelligence and cultural competency training for corrections staff as a way of improving conditions for Indigenous juveniles in detention. The team also aimed to provide employment pathways, skills development and healing support for indigenous young people within Australia’s justice system.

Similarly to FMM, the students from HomeMore drew on their diverse backgrounds, strengths and degree knowledge to develop an ambitious initiative – the project aims to address property affordability levels for single women, while simultaneously reducing Australia’s carbon foot print.

Team members Michael Hutchison, Yianni Polydorou and Marrissa Garner discovered that a carbon-positive SOLCER (Smart Operation for a Low Carbon Energy Region) House can be constructed in under sixteen weeks. Studying Business (Michael and Yianna are both Business students in La Trobe Business School, majoring in leadership and marketing respectively), and Psychology (Marissa is currently completing a BA in Psychological Science), they brought their different perspectives together to see how the Solcer Houses can create renewable energy and save Victorian families up to $140 in energy bills, while putting profits towards helping single disadvantaged parents to purchase their own Solcer house via a rent-to-buy scheme.

“I am thrilled we are the only university in Australia to have two teams competing in the national inter-university 2016 competition finals,” subject coordinator and lead lecturer for LBS’s Social Entrepreneurship: The Big Idea subject Professor of Practice Antony Jacobson said. “This achievement is truly testament to both our passionate, committed, and hard-working students and the Business School’s unparalleled teaching and support.”

The competition finals will take place on 29 November 2016. We wish both teams the best of luck!