Ventures Industry Challenge

Use your entrepreneurial skills to help us save one of the world's most precious resources.

UQ students across all disciplines are encouraged to join our Ventures Industry Challenge. Work with our industry partner to develop a real-world solution to a real-world challenge. This year's challenge focuses on the problems and opportunities surrounding water scarcity. Teams will compete for multiple prizes worth $15,000. 

Our 2020 industry partner is WaterStart, a not-for-profit water innovation agency. WaterStart provides a channel for accelerating the adoption of water technologies driven by the needs of water agencies and large consumers.

Key dates

Team registration is now closed.

Submission deadline. 5pm 8 October 2020.
Submit your team's solution to be considered for the pitch event. 

Pitch event. 22 October 2020.
Register to watch the top teams pitch for the prize pool of $15,000.

Solve a problem

Choose a water scarcity focus area you'd like to tackle with your team. This could include pollution, infrastructure, sanitation, natural disasters, climate change, or food security.   Your team can approach the challenge from a technological, social or environmental perspective.

Natural disasters
How can industry be more prepared to effectively manage natural events, including droughts, floods or fires? 
Water pollution
Are there new ways to ensure water supply is optimised for new and developing communities?
Community engagement
Can we raise awareness and help communities manage the way they use water to make a collective difference in affordable and sustainable water practices?
Healthy water quality
What are ways to ensure our water quality is fit for different uses – from recreational activities and industrial purposes to healthy drinking?

How it works

Stage 1: Understand your problem 

In Stage 1 your team will be working on understanding your chosen water scarcity problem. Book in for the upcoming sessions.

Breakfast with Tomas. 2 September 9.30am-10am
For this session, bring your idea that you are working on.

Mentoring appointments. 7 Sept 9-10am

Drop in Q&A session. 9 Sept 12-2pm
Come along with questions for our industry mentors.

Self-paced video content.
Videos part 1-3 will help you to understand the problem you are working on and to empathise with your customers. 

Stage 2: Test your solution

During Stage 2 your team will use your learnings on problem discovery and begin to test your market. Book in your team for the upcoming sessions. 

Breakfast with Tomas. 16 September 9.30am-10am
For this session, we'll discuss how teams are going with testing their solutions. 

Q&A Mentor Session. 23 September 12-2pm

Self-paced video content.
For Stage 2 of the challenge, videos part 4-8 will help you to test your market by rapid prototyping, performing market validation and trialing business models.


Stage 3: Pitch practise

In the last stage of the challenge, your team will be busy preparing and practicing your pitch ahead for the submission deadline at 5pm 8 October. Book in your team for the upcoming sessions. 

Q&A Mentor Session. 29 September 12-2pm
Join our industry partners and Ventures staff for an informal Q&A session.

Self-paced video content.
For Stage 3 of the challenge, videos part 9-10 will help your team to refine and develop a compelling online pitch.

Stage 4: Pitch your solution

Your team will need to submit a pitch video by 5pm 8 October 2020 to enter the challenge.

Pitch Practise. 6 October 12-2pm

Submit pitch. 8 October by 5pm

If your solution is shortlisted, your team will be invited to present your solution at our virtual pitch presentation on 22 October 2020. 

Teams will compete for a prize pool of $15,000 in front of judges and an audience.

At least one team member must participate in the virtual pitch.

Judging criteria

  • Level of innovation (30%) – is the proposed solution a new or significantly different approach taken to solve the challenge that will provide value?
  • Viable (30%) – is the proposed solution feasible in terms of resources required for successful implementation?
  • Customer value (30%) – how well does the proposed solution meet the customer's need and deliver benefits?
  • Presentation (10%) – does the pitch tell a succinct yet detailed, compelling proposal to take action and support the proposed solution?

Support available

Check out the support available for your teams as you progress through the challenge.

The fortnightly in-person breakfasts are your chance to check-in with Ventures staff, meet other teams and have a chat on how you are going with the challenge.
Join our industry experts to gain mentorship, industry insight and discuss how your team is tracking with your solution. 
As part of the Ventures Industry Challenge you have access to the Ventures self-paced video content to help you through each stage of the challenge.

Why water?

While the global population continues to grow, access to fresh water has become increasingly scarce.

Billions of people around the world still lack access to safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation. Water availability is also becoming less predictable around the world due to an increase in droughts natural disasters. According to the UN, water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030. 

Water is essential not only to health, but also to poverty reduction, food security, peace and human rights, ecosystems and education. This Industry Challenge aims to address how we can use water resource management and sustainability to maintain the lives and industries of communities around the world.

Our industry partner

WaterStart logo

In affiliation with:

SEQ Water logo

Urban Utilities logo

Unity Water logo

Why participate

By participating in the Challenge you will be able to:

  • showcase your entrepreneurial skills to industry,
  • build your networks,
  • strengthen your entrepreneurial skills,
  • work with students outside your discipline
  • address a real problem worth solving, and
  • have the chance to win a cash prize!


First place: $10,000 cash, the opportunity to pitch at the annual Ventures Showcase and Celebration event, and exclusive mentoring session with a Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence

Second place: $3,000 cash and exclusive mentoring session with a Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence

Third place: $2,000 cash and exclusive mentoring session with a Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence

Have a question?

For more information about the Ventures Industry Challenge, contact the Ventures team