An idea to support women at risk of homelessness wins Ventures Industry Challenge

3 November 2023

An idea to support women aged 50+ at risk of homelessness in Queensland has taken out the top prize and $5,000 at the 2023 Ventures Industry Challenge.

Claire Ashman pitching on stage with purple lighting in the background
Co-founder of GreenDoor Claire Ashman pitching at the pitch final

Women over 55 are now one of the fastest-growing groups at risk of homelessness in Australia, with recent research indicating that without intervention the number of homeless older women in Queensland will double in the next decade.

This year’s challenge was in collaboration with innovation partners, Q Shelter, BHC Creating Liveable Communities, YFS, Challenge DV, and Challenge DV, and the Queensland Government Department of Housing. Over 10-weeks, The University of Queensland supported students from across its faculties to develop solutions to Australia’s housing crisis and pitch their validated ideas.

Psychology student Sophie Griffiths said the GreenDoor team were inspired to find a solution to the issue as it touched them personally.

“Older women are vulnerable as a result of a lifetime of gender inequality, leaving us with lower superannuation and fewer options for work, especially if we have taken time off to be parents or carers.”

“I am in this age cohort and have friends in this situation.”

“They have raised families and previously owned their own homes, but life events have conspired to diminish their circumstances. They have become very vulnerable and terrified about their long-term housing security.”

“Our idea is for a new model of co-housing that allows older women with limited financial resources to access a form of home ownership in an environment that will remain suitable for them to age in place.”

Their proposed solution addresses the design, planning, and most importantly a new financial model that is comparable to existing retirement community living. However, this model would be delivered on a small scale with 6 to 8 co-owners and one investor partner per co-home.

Bachelor of Arts student and co-founder of GreenDoor, Claire Ashman said the team is energised from their win and is looking to pursue the Ventures Validate program next year to help further develop their idea. They are also excited to talk with other social impact groups they’ve networked with throughout their journey.

“Ventures has connected us with several industry partners and in-house experts who are all willing to help us develop our understanding and flesh out our GreenDoor idea.”

Head of Entrepreneurship, Mr Nimrod Klayman, said it is wonderful to be able to connect UQ students with Industry to work on real problems and come up with impactful solutions.

"This Challenge is a great application of students' entrepreneurial skills, to innovatively solve complex problems in our communities. We are grateful to have the support of our 2023 partners to deliver this program to our students."

Ventures Industry Challenge Winners

  • 1st place: $5,000:­
    GreenDoor - A social enterprise to develop and maintain small scale, sustainable, secure co-housing communities for older women in Queensland.
    - Sophie Griffiths (Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours))
    - Claire Ashman (Bachelor of Arts)
    - Max Griffiths (Bachelor of Arts)
  • 2nd place: $3,000 and People’s choice: $1,000:
    Seriously Social - Planning software to help maintain Australian social housing in a more socially conscious and efficient manner.
    - Rex Chen (Masters of Business Administration)
    - Peter Laffan (Bachelor of Business)
    - Appolonia Smith-Laffin (Bachelor of Business Management)
    - Cheuk Lam Lee (Master of Engineering Science)
  • 3rd place: $2,000
    LandLink Housing - A vertically integrated platform increasing community housing supply by unlocking value in under-utilised backyards.
    - Jeremy Hunt (Doctor of Medicine)
    - Jack Kelso-Ribbe (Doctor of Medicine)

View the 2023 Industry Challenge playlist over on the Ventures YouTube channel to watch the highlights and interviews. If you are interested in being involved as a partner for our 2024 Ventures Industry Challenge, please contact the Ventures team at