The Young Innovator Awards (YiA) celebrate some of the smartest minds of Generation Z and the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and game-changers.
Since 2010, more than 3000 students from Bay of Plenty secondary schools have entered their creative solutions to real world problems, developing their innovation skills to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
The latest edition of the awards were held last week and had a strong Covid-19 theme.
Head judge Jono Jones, the chief product and innovation officer at Bluelab, said Covid-19 saw the YiA team change the structure of the challenge, with this year's students tasked with creating solutions to problems created by the lockdown.
"Lockdown created a massive number of social and business problems which in itself created new opportunities for innovation. Of course, added to the mix, was the challenge the students themselves faced by being in lockdown meaning they had to be extra creative when it came to sourcing information.
"The lockdown saw the normal three month window became a five week sprint for the young innovators to develop ideas. The end result? We've been completely blown away by the brilliant and creative solutions to many of those challenges," he said.
The winners of each category were Noah Ball, Aquinas College (Intermediate Innovator); Claire Ma, Aquinas College (Junior Innovator); and Alaya Callinan, Ōtūmoetai College (Senior Innovator).
Wood Agency managing director Reuben Woods has been a supporter of YiA since inception and said: "The awards really fit our own vision and culture of creativity and innovation.
"We have a massive passion for our region, our business community are leaders in innovation, so it's natural to start looking to the next generation to help teach them the process of being innovative.
"I'm humbled by the level of maturity of these young people, the problems they've identified and the innovations they've ideated. I'd like to see the same model applied elsewhere in the country – and I'm looking forward to the next decade of being involved in the awards."
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, YiA was founded by Priority One's Instep programme, aimed at providing opportunities for budding business and social innovators to connect with some of Aotearoa's best in sector.
Priority One Instep manager Andy Howells said: "The YiA programme would not have been possible without the support of local secondary schools, business partners – Woods Agency, Bluelab and Cucumber; and sponsors – Bayfair, Beca Tauranga, Page Macrae Engineering, Robotics Plus, Tauranga City Council and University of Waikato.
"Success has come about because of collaboration around a shared vision to help support the next generation of innovators in our community."
The 2020 awards, held at Mount Classic Flyers, hosted 300 students, parents and invited guests. MC for the evening was former Ōtūmoetai College graduate, entrepreneur and founder of Nude Greens Alex McCall.
Young Innovator Award Winners:
Noah Ball, Aquinas College -
Noah developed a contactless pairing system for doctors and patients, allowing medical practices to be notified when patients had arrived for an appointment under lockdown conditions.
The system of having patients wait in their cars was, while necessary, often confusing, with many practices resorting to having staff wait outside for arrivals. Noah researched the problem thoroughly, talking to medical practice staff and his GP mother for a patient arrival perspective, before developing an app-based notification system.
During the ideation phase, Noah recognised challenges with different patient types, particularly those elderly customers not proficient with app-based technologies. The solution was a text message sent at the allotted appointment time, requiring the patient to respond with a simple Y.
Judges were impressed with Noah's thorough research, his insights into the problem, validation of concept and end result micro perspective solution, allowing him to adapt and adjust the solution for different patients.
Second place: Amy Evans & Maddie Hunt, Aquinas College - The Hand Bag.
Third place: Cuba Luka, Aquinas College - Chart Check.
Claire Ma, Aquinas College - SOAP
Claire developed a platform based on a common problem she witnessed in her own neighbourhood – elderly people unable to leave their homes to shop. Her digital app solution was designed to connect shopping volunteers with those that needed the service.
The system was designed so that people were able to either use an app or phone a call centre (manned by Grey Power volunteers also at home) to request the delivery service, which was then matched with volunteers in the same area.
Claire's in-depth research impressed the judges – she spoke (from a distance) to many elderly in her own neighbourhood canvassing their opinions and ideas. While recognising the needs of other vulnerable groups, Claire focused her solution specifically on the elderly, tailoring it to their needs and providing a technical solution to a striking social issue.
Second place: Holly Van den Borst & Mila Laurie, Aquinas College - Relax-A-Balls.
Third place: Erin Moore, Aquinas College - The P.O.D. App.
Alaya Callinan, Otumoetai College - CheckD
Alaya looked to her own family to create a solution to a serious problem than many New Zealanders faced – obtaining medical reassurance for changing moles. Her fair skinned family were at greater risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers but due to the lockdown, weren't able to attend medical appointments for skin check-ups.
Looking to leverage technology to enable a home-based checking system, Alaya went to great lengths to research both her problem and her solution. She contacted subject matter experts, including Mole Map and the Skin Dermatology Institute, as well as Haunt Digital to find out how these experts were responding to the issue before developing her solution.
Judges were impressed with Alaya's critical thinking and understanding from a human perspective when assessing solutions, taking inspiration from what others were doing in the space, iterating her own ideas and accepting and acting on feedback. Her solution – a camera attached to a moveable check device connected to an app, taking an image, uploading data and creating a risk factor assessment.
Second place: Issac Jarden, Aquinas College - ECOurier Box.
Third place: Sarah Latus, Otumoetai College - Street Shop.
Intermediate: Monique Faire & Aurelia James, Aquinas College - The ConnectUS Wall.
Junior: Jack McClutchie, Aquinas College - Hands On.
Senior: Piper Gregory, Elise Oxenham & Stephanie Samson, Aquinas College - ProtectU.
Communication: Claire Ma, Aquinas College - SOAP
Sustainability: Issac Jarden, Aquinas College - ECOurier Box.
Creativity: Alaya Callinan, Otumoetai College - CheckD
Research: Sarah Latus, Otumoetai College - Street Shop.
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