UQ student wins global Reimagine Challenge with his pitch to #Reconnect

4 March 2021

UQ commerce/law student, Thomas Bizzell, won the 2020 Ericsson Innovation Awards with a startup that helps the shipping industry reduce its carbon emissions. When the global pandemic hit, he turned to helping people to #Reconnect, becoming one of 20 students to win the Reimagine Challenge 2020. His innovative new social movement shows non-experts like us how to help people whose mental health is declining.

Thomas smiling and wearing white shirt under denim button down.

The Reimagine Challenge called on university and college students from around the globe to propose innovative solutions to global issues revealed and magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic; the aim being to, in the words of Schmidt Futures co-founder, Eric Schmidt, “…build back better and more resilient than before.” 

Mr Bizzell’s proposal, The #Reconnect movement, aims to inspire everyday people to reach out to those with whom they have lost touch, providing the most vulnerable in our society access to a robust social network capable of delivering mental health first aid – the critical first step in mental health intervention.

Mr Bizzell has become eligible for up to $50,000 in scholarship money and prizes for himself and The University of Queensland, courtesy of Schmidt Futures.

Congratulations, Mr Bizzell!

Read more about #Reconnect and the other winners' proposals

Former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt's organisation, Schmidt Futures received 838 submissions from students enrolled in 264 schools in 40 different countries, representing 86 nationalities and speaking 53 primary languages. Participants spanned a variety of backgrounds, such as undergraduate freshman at liberal arts schools, PhD candidates in the sciences, graphic designers, and aspiring lawyers, among others. 
Each of the 20 winners is eligible to receive up to $25,000 in tuition scholarships, and the institution where each winner is currently enrolled is eligible to receive up to $25,000 in additional prizes per winning entry from their school, amounting to $1,000,000 in scholarships and prizes. 
The challenge is part of a broader $1 billion commitment by Schmidt Futures co-founders Eric and Wendy Schmidt to identify and support global talent.