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Students on the FASTRACK

28 Nov 2011

A group of outstanding Master of Management students from the University of Sydney Business School have won the 2011 Deloitte FASTRACK Innovation Challenge.

Students Rianne Hunt, Christina Thomsen and Dora Sas formed a team called Novella for the competition and were selected as winners by a panel of four Deloitte Senior Executives chaired by Chief Strategy Officer, Gerhard Vorster. They were awarded $5,000 in prize money for their innovative business idea called Adwave which involved delivering personalised, interactive and deal based outdoor advertising campaigns through wireless electronic billboards and smartphones.

Their concept and pitch triumphed over 19 other teams who entered the competition in semester 2, from a number of competing Universities.

Gerhard Vorster, Chief Strategy Officer and Innovation Leader for Deloitte chaired the judging panel and said; "The contest of ideas was fierce and the quality of delivery exceptionally high, with several concepts relevant to our business this year that we would consider taking forward. We have directly recruited a number of top performers from the program and anticipate working with a few teams each semester to further develop their concepts."

With limited initial context, teams have to work together over 12 weeks to deliver a market tested portfolio of innovation concepts, addressing significant business needs. Many teams 'fail' ideas at various stages, and then evolve and strengthen their concepts to reach a more feasible result. FASTRACK candidates also have the opportunity to be considered by Deloitte for internships and accelerated graduate recruitment.

The final portfolio of innovations this semester included ideas operating in emerging areas as diverse as interactive education, data security, adver-gaming, corporate wellbeing, e-health and building energy management.

FASTRACK Program Director Wes Sonnenreich said, "We are really proud of the energy and vision that all teams brought to the challenge. The winning team in particular epitomised the innovation spirit that the program is designed to cultivate.

"Team Novella had several ideas that failed when prototyped and tested in the market, but they didn't give up," he said. "They kept trying and after five iterations came up with something that hit all the right notes. Because of the lessons they learned through their failures they were able to pitch and position their final idea perfectly to the audience on the day. It was a great example of the importance of communication, effective positioning and determination that is so critical to successful corporate innovation."

This is the third year that the FASTRACK Innovation Challenge has been run by Deloitte to foster strategic business thinking and develop relationships for university students that they can take into the professional world.

Gerhard summarised, "The FASTRACK program combines two of our passions as a business - innovation, and working with young, talented people. Innovation is a critical differentiator for Deloitte, and I believe that developing the innovative capacity of firms is critical to productivity growth in general. Building up entrepreneurial skills among the next generation of business leaders will make a real contribution not just to our business, but nationally as well. We look forward to growing this program into something very significant in the Australian context over the next few years."