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"Hugely successful" Genesis competition won by modern day cone of silence

23 September 2019
Business School calls for more investment in innovation
Nook, a mobile modular workspace built using recycled plastic bottles and designed to provide privacy and thinking space for workers in open plan offices, has won the University of Sydney Business School's latest Genesis startup competition.
Scott Ellice-Flint, Sarah Ellice-Flint and Will Chambers from Nook

Scott Ellice-Flint, Sarah Ellice-Flint and Will Chambers, co-founders of Nook

The runner up was Compass IoT, a software system which aggregates and presents transport data to planners and operators in a simple, accessible and actionable form.

The head of the School's Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Leanne Cutcher, described this Genesis competition involving seven finalists as a "huge success."

We have fantastic ideas circulating in our University community and it's the Business School's job to foster these ideas by creating an innovation ecosystem through programs like Genesis."
Professor Leanne Cutcher

Nook is the brain-child of brother and sister duo Scott and Sarah Ellice-Flint and their co-founder Will Chambers, who say it is a "space to take conference calls, get deep work done and have a bit of privacy in an open plan office."

"It's very hard to get any focused work done or to take a phone call in private in an open plan office in today's world," said Scott. "We have created a modular pod with a desk and a chair and a whiteboard, which can be assembled in 50 minutes."

Compass IoT's Emily Bobis says her company aggregates transport data for the benefit of governments, city planners, consultants and transport operators who are "inundated with massive amounts of data."

"Compass aggregates that data in a way that is simple, actionable and easily accessible so that city planners and transport operators who need a holistic picture of how people move around the city and interact with transport assets such as buses, trams and trains," Emily explained.

Other Genesis finalists included:

  • Open Parachute – a school room-based mental health program aimed at stemming the rate of depression and youth suicide. Creator Dr Hayley Watson says the program is designed to "transform education systems worldwide so that we are fostering the real skills our youth need to be mentally healthy for the rest of their lives."
  • Catalyser – software which allow large firms to coordinate their employee's charitable activities. The company describes its product as "all-in-one employee giving software which helps achieve greater employee engagement and social impact success."
  • uCare – software which improves communications between people in care and other family members. uCare says it is ensuring quality, safety and excellence in aged and disability care.
  • Adatree – technology which helps companies in the finance sector to comply with regulations governing the management of consumer data. "We offer modular components that address the complexity of complying with the consumer data rights. Regardless of your core banking system, data architecture or internal systems," says Adatree.
  • Interval Weight Loss – a program developed by leading obesity expert, Dr Nick Fuller from the Boden Institute at the Charles Perkins Centre. In a book titled 'Interval Weight Loss For Life', Dr Fuller explains how "you can reprogram your body into believing it's at its new set point so that you not only become slimmer but you stay that way."

The winners were selected by team mentors following four weeks of intensive development.

"The seven Genesis finalists have been meeting with each other, holding each other to account and setting goals, and alongside them have been the team mentors who are successful entrepreneurs themselves," said Professor Cutcher. "These mentors are people who want to be part of building an innovative ecosystem in Sydney in particular."

Professor Cutcher concluded by calling on firms to invest in the ideas fostered by Genesis. "We want people to sit up and take notice," she said. "We want firms to think 'that's a great idea'."

Now in its 11th year, Genesis is open to University of Sydney staff, students and alumni. Since 2008, the program has given nearly 1,500 participants access to masterclasses, mentoring and networking opportunities with established entrepreneurs and industry experts.