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Sydney Genesis uncovers Australia's entrepreneurs of the future

04 Jun 2014

Start ups that help facilitate charitable donations, produce safer helmets for motorcyclists and match local farmers to consumers were the winners of the University of Sydney Business School's prestigious Sydney Genesis StartUp Competition 2014.

Best Social Enterprise, Pledger.

Best Social Enterprise, Pledger. Co-founders Isabella Rich and Nick Rudder (outside), pictured with Melati De Haas, Marketing Manager, Servcorp and Syed Ahmed, competition judge.

Established in 2008, the competition, sponsored by the international serviced and virtual office provider, Servcorp, this year attracted 38 team entries in two categories - commercial and social, or not-for-profit, start-ups.

The winners were chosen from a field of eight finalists by a panel of judges looking for "real world" potential.

A start up called Pledger was considered the Best Social Enterprise. Pledger is an online platform which matches charities with SME supporters based on their "values, geography, industry and desired level of commitment".

Co-founders Nick Rudder and Isabella Rich said the prize of $ 3000 plus 6 months of virtual office from Servcorp valued at $2500, would provide much needed "seed capital" for building a URL.

"From here we believe it's only onwards and upwards," said Nick and Isabella. "We've received overwhelming amounts of positive feedback and we'll be looking to build the charity and SME user database before we launch the site."

The prize of $3000 and six months of virtual office for the Best Commercial Enterprise went to Hydrophobic Plastics, which is developing a water resistant helmet visor giving motorcyclists' enhanced visibility in wet weather.

Hydrophobic Plastics's founder, Edward Smith, says that Sydney Genesis has given him a great deal of confidence as an entrepreneur. "We will now continue to develop the technology and refine the business model," he said.

Food Pod, a start up which brings together local farmers and so called "locavores," or consumers, who want to eat local produce, was selected to spend three weeks at the European Innovation Academy in the French city of Nice.

"Sydney Genesis supports world changing ideas by encouraging students to innovate, to become entrepreneurs and to establish their own businesses," said the Sydney Genesis Coordinator, Cayetana Martinez. "It also provides practical networking opportunities."

"Applications will be open again on the 1st of July for the next Sydney Genesis Pitch Fest and all University of Sydney students are welcome to participate," Cayetana said.