State’s Chief Entrepreneur inspires young innovators

Leanne innovation awards
Young innovators Nawshaba Ahmed, Tessa Bryden and Mercedes Thomas were thrilled to meet Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp with Mayor Jack Dempsey.

Some of the region’s youngest innovators had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp as part of the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards.

While in town Leanne, founder and CEO of Everledger, had many opportunities to engage with the region’s leading thinkers but she said she was delighted to take the opportunity to hear from up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Students from schools throughout the region took to the stage at The Generator to deliver their ideas, developed for the innovation awards, to Leanne.

 “Every one of the ideas shared today were completely articulated in what problem they were solving,” Leanne said

“Most of the people that presented today had lived that experience of the challenge or it was someone that was close to them as a loved one.”

She said the factor that “absolutely rang true” was that the students had ideas with “glocal” (global and local) relevance.

A great example of this was a brother and sister team from Bundaberg Christian College that developed their Medi Checker idea because they were concerned about the health of their grandfather in Korea.

The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards winning team Meilor Terra from St Luke’s Anglican School also pitched their idea for CLEARN to Leanne.

Team member Nawshaba Ahmed said CLEARN was essentially a way to incentivise recycling.

“Basically you just scan an item when you’re recycling it and it tells you whether or not the item is recyclable,” Nawshaba said.

“CLEARN is kind of like a filter for that kind of stuff but at the same time it tells you what is and isn’t recyclable and rewards you for checking.”

Leanne provides feedback to Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards entrants

Leanne said it was wonderful to hear about the Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards project with the idea of a circular economy one which is close to her heart.

“The winning team are power rangers,” she said.

“Three incredibly mindful young ladies that of course will be innovative entrepreneurs running well beyond the next six months of their endeavours.

“Circular economy I speak about so largely on various spectrums across the world.

“When we think about zero waste I’m not sure that’s every really achievable, it might be a utopic space, but being able to recycle products designed for disassembly and understanding the waste to value stream which is really exactly what they’re hitting on is a global imperative in all parts of the world.

“They absolutely understand the nail which is the problem and they’ve got the hammer to nail it in.”

Fellow Meilor Terra team member Tessa Bryden said CLEARN was born out of their passion to help the earth.

“As Leanne said all of our resources are finite and the best way to make them less finite is to recycle,” Tessa said.

Mercedes Thomas agreed and said it was inspiring to hear Leanne’s feedback on CLEARN.

“It was really inspiring,” Mercedes said.

“And since her work was similar to ours and it was focusing on environment and finite resources and recycling it gave us an idea of what we could do potentially.

“It was really cool to hear all the feedback and see if she liked your idea and see how we can progress it further.”

Mayor thrilled to invite Leanne to speak to students

Mayor Jack Dempsey said Leanne provided such a powerful message during her last Bundaberg visit that he was pleased to invite her back to inspire the Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards participants.

“We can’t thank Leanne enough for the time she has afforded us here in the Bundaberg Region,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“She has not only taken time out to speak with some of our leading business people but she is back today inspiring the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

“I know every attendee left inspired by the messages shared by Leanne and the students.

“We’re certainly very proud of the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Award participants with the Bundaberg Region receiving the highest number of entries in the first year than any other region.”

Leanne said the students taking an interest in innovation were fortunate to be in such a supportive environment with access to advice and resources.

“Being here in Bundaberg every time I am back the community feels strengthened and strengthened and strengthened,” Leanne said.

“To have the privilege of the mayor and all the Council members standing right here in this building endorsing young entrepreneurial journeys as well as supporting … not only the spaces but understanding the importance of what an entrepreneurial mindset and talent building requires.

“Every time I return to this region it feels as though there is more deliberate alignment about where the future is going.

“Bundaberg is crafting how it will play a significant role in the formation of its own future.

“Rather than being a passenger to that vehicle they are building it themselves.”

Leanne said she was impressed with tours of the region’s innovation facilities which featured world-class machinery.

Leanne’s first idea

Leanne innovation awards
Local students were inspired by Leanne Kemp's story.

Leanne shared her global success stories with the students but also revealed that her very first idea had been developed at a similar age.

“The idea was a bit of a disaster,” she laughed.

“It was trying to work out how I could get an electric dog collar so that the dogs wouldn’t escape out of the backyard.

“But little did I know that the dogs just scratched the collars off, so I never really designed it in a way that worked.”

She used the anecdote to encourage the students to keep striving for their goals, even if their very first idea was not a success.

“I’ve had a number of companies and ever since I started those I’ve committed to a process of experimentation because I realised you never get it right the first time.

“The idea is the easy piece.

“Then it’s about building the product and understanding the customer.

“The same old questions that were asked today: how would you take, being so young, from an ideation stage in to something that is a product.”

Luckily Leanne did also find a way to keep her dogs at home.

“I just managed to redesign what we were feeding them so they would never leave the house!

“Now the rest is history.”

Bundaberg Christian College student and Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards participant Justine Harper said it was wonderful to hear from Leanne first hand.

“It was a great way to extend our idea after the challenge was done and see how if we wanted to take it in to the future what we could do,” Justine said.

“It’s really great to see how other people have been successful in the area that we were doing the challenge.

“I think it would be really interesting to create new things that would help other people too.”