GISU Urban Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition: Hear from the WSU Student Teams and Their Brilliant Pitches

Hear from the WSU Student Teams and Their Brilliant Pitches at the GISU Urban Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition....


In November last year, Launch Pad attended the Guangzhou International Sister-City Universities (GISU) 2021 Urban Innovation & Entrepreneurship Final Pitch event at WSU’s Parramatta City Campus, 1PSQ. 12 finalist student teams from 6 different universities from across the globe pitched their ideas in person and virtually for this competition. 


This year’s student competition centred around UNSDG’s (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) with a specific focus on innovation, multidisciplinary and impactful concepts to include entrepreneurship and innovation.


Prof Barney Glover, AO, Vice-Chancellor and President and The Honourable Dr Geoffrey Lee, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, gave the opening & welcome addresses, and Professor Yi-Chen Lan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global Development MC’d the event. 


It was a proud moment when Western’s ‘CO2 Concrete’ team (supported/mentored by School of Engineering) won the Gold prize & Western’s ‘Kinteract’ team, Lavanya, (mentored by Launch Pad) won the Bronze prize. 


“This competition was a great opportunity, and it has been really amazing to see the development of their innovative ideas as well as refinement in their pitching skills,” said Inu Rana, Sr. Business Advisor for Launch Pad.


Over the last 6 months, it’s been an amazing journey for WSU student teams, especially for Lavanya Viswanathan, Jeremy Booth and Nik Peric-Djordjevic. 


KInteract is an app aims to change society’s negative perceptions surrounding climate change


Lavanya Viswanathan is a 2nd year student studying Bachelor of Health Science (Therapeutic Recreation) and was encouraged to apply by mentors of Launch Pad, she was told it would be good experience for pitching and to develop her ideas further. 


Her app KInteract gives people the power to make a difference by making small changes in their everyday lives. The app shows users how small changes can help them save energy – for example, walking instead of using private and public transport. 


“This makes them view climate change as something they can tackle and not something they should fear. Through goal setting, users are able to stay motivated and this helps them feel like they are making a difference. In addition to this, rebates reward the user’s sustainable behaviour, promoting and reinforcing positive behaviour,” said Lavanya.


“While developing my pitch deck, I also developed a broader understanding of how a business works and the different aspects that need to be considered when going through each stage of creating a business. Throughout the different stages of the GISU competition, I had started to develop a solid business plan and refine my idea further.”


Lavanya was inspired to make a difference in the world and create impact for future generations. Initially, she was involved in the 2020 21C Challenge where students had to provide sustainable solutions to contribute towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In this challenge, she had learnt how different sectors contribute towards climate change, understanding the importance of youth taking action towards this important problem. 


“It has been a very enlightening experience and I would highly recommend this experience to other students, no matter what stage their project is currently in as it helps you to put yourself and your idea out there,” said Lavanya.


Sustainia is a gamified app experience that aims to shape young people’s approach to sustainability


Jeremy Booth and Nik Peric-Djordjevic are 2nd year students studying a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (Games Design & Simulation) and believe this competition experience has amplified their pitching and presentation skills learnt from their degree.


It was challenging for the team of two to plan the concept for a project that was outside their field, but believe it taught them the adapt their current skills to any industry. Overall, it has given them the ability to have a confident vision for future projects.


“When Nik presented his idea, I loved how it sounded and immediately wanted to jump on board with him. We weren’t sure how to take it forward but were continually inspired by Inu’s guidance and didn’t know where it would take us until we were in the grand final, somewhere we never anticipated to be,” said Jeremy.


“The final event itself was extremely surreal. It showed us how much we achieved and it showed us where we fell short which gives a full picture of everything required for a stellar entrepreneurial venture.”


Their app gamifies recycling, using image and object recognition to scan items and identify if they are recyclable and how to correctly dispose of them. The choice to gamify the app aims to attract a younger audience, teaching them lifelong skills about how to recycle.


“I wanted to create something that was able to do all the hard work when it comes to recycling correctly for users. All people would have to do when they were unsure was pull it out and take a photo and the app would do the rest. Over time, they would learn and work towards creating a greener world,” said Nik.


Both Jeremy and Nik recommend this experience to anyone looking to become an entrepreneur, “there was so much that we learned from it and it opened our eyes to the amount of effort it takes to become an entrepreneur, but also how rewarding it can be. For those outside of those studying entrepreneurship, it’s still an experience we recommend because there’s something anyone can learn no matter what discipline you come from.”



Paralympics 2020 – A peak into the lives of two WSU students post-Paralympic glory

The life of two WSU students who represented Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics....

Paralympics 2020 – A peak into the lives of Two WSU Students post Paralympic Glory

Tim Hodge (left) & Gordon Allan (right)

Months after the Paralympic Games ended, W’SUP had contacted Tim Hodge and Gordon Allan, two students of WSU who represented Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, to check in with their life after representing the country.

Hodge responded that while he feels good to be finally back home after a long campaign, his life has become chaotic with the many media and public appearance opportunities, whilst juggling his university studies and resuming training for Commonwealth Games and World Championships post the Paralympic Games.

Allan, on the other hand, mentioned the experience of his first-ever Paralympic Games has been great and he has been overwhelmed talking about it at the various media opportunities and podcasts which all feels new to him so he has just taken his time to soak it all in.

After being delayed by a year and only able to view it through screens, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics saw massive participation with about 4,403 athletes from 162 nations competing for the medals.

Western Sydney University (WSU) was fortunate enough to have two students participate in the renowned games, cyclist Gordon Allan and swimmer Timothy Hodge, who were also part of the 174 Paralympics contingent of Australia.

It was a matter of immense pride for Western Sydney University as Hodge, coached by Clinton Camilleri, an alumnus of Western Sydney University, won three medals – a bronze in 100m backstroke and a silver in 4x100m medley and 200m individual medley, respectively at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Hodge and Allan are current Western Sydney University students studying Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science, respectively. Hodge’s coach, Clinton Camilleri, is a former student of WSU who has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree. Hodge had previously represented Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympics and had won two bronze medals at the World Para Swimming Championships, London in 2019 and a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.

Tokyo 2020 was Allan’s debut at the Paralympic Games, where he finished fifth and ninth in the Men’s time trial C1-3 classification and Mixed team sprint C1-5 classification, respectively. He had previously won a bronze at the 2019 Apeldoorn and silver at the 2020 Milton UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.

All three athletes spoke with W’SUP’s editor, Ayush about their time at the games. The trio spoke candidly during the interaction as they talked about their experience at the games, swapping kits with other nations, receiving souvenirs like badges and pins, cheat meals and their lives outside of sport.

Hodge had begun swimming as a method of recovery at the age of nine after his right foot was amputated.

“I learnt to swim and would swim regularly in the backyard pool,” Hodge said.

“As a 9-year-old, participated in a swimming carnival, then moved up to state competitions where I finished 5th, came back year after year and get kept on improving and getting better than the previous years.”

Allan attributes his interest to cycling after accepting a challenge from a friend of his as a young child.

“I started cycling as a really young kid but had shelved the bike for a few years and then got back into it again as an 11-year-old kid who was dared by a mate to ride the bike down a hill,” Allan said.

Camilleri’s journey to becoming a coach came after retiring as a professional swimmer and moving up from a casual lifeguard position.

“I was a swimmer myself and after retiring I became a casual lifeguard on the weekends and later moved into a coaching role with ‘Learn to Swim’ squads and just went on and on,” Camilleri said.

Due to the global pandemic, the Japanese government required all international athletes to undergo the necessary 14-day quarantine. While this could be stifling and boring for some, the three Australians managed to find different ways to pass the time. Ranging from Allan’s stationary bike delivered to his room to playing video games, the three men were well looked after.

Hodge has resumed his training and is aiming to return to the international stage in Paris 2024, where he hopes to improve on his results and timings from Tokyo.

Hodge also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to the University for all the support he received from the University community via social media messages and publications, adding that the sports culture at Western Sydney University is great and it was this support during his Paralympic journey that helped him get through the long period of training, preparations till he finally stood at the blocks to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics.



Ayush is an editor for W’SUP.

Tileah Dobson is an editor for W’SUP and the news and queer editor for the Sydney Sentinel.