Innovation Challenge of the Year Award

Australian eChallenge

Finalist of the Innovation Challenge of the Year Award

"Making Ideas Fly"

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The Australian eChallenge prepares and nurtures budding entrepreneurs to thrive in an uncertain, dynamic and fluid environment. The program guides participants through the process of creating, developing, assessing and actioning ideas. It provides the tools, interaction opportunities and mentorship needed to begin an entrepreneurial story. Since 2001, more than 7,400 domestic students have successfully completed the program, and we have helped launch 1,103 start-ups, and awarded prizes worth over $3.5 million.
Unique from other similar entrepreneurship programs or competitions, ours is governed by the RITE framework (Relate, Innovate, Test and Expand), developed in-house along Design Thinking principles. The first step in this process, Relate, encapsulates the essence of the program, which is that the entrepreneurial journey is an inside-out, bottom-up approach that starts with the individual. We instil participants with an inductive learning philosophy; that is, the idea that they must harness their own network and human capital to begin.
Throughout the program, participants are exposed to a plethora of opportunities designed to help develop their idea, develop practical entrepreneurial skills and abilities, generate IP, validate the need for their innovation, and build a professional network. One of the distinctive opportunities and potential advantages for participants, creating a potent motivator to excel, is the ability to access our network of incubators that span the globe: Adelaide and Waite in Australia, Singapore, Chalon-en-Champagne in France, and from early 2020 Christchurch, New Zealand.

Key People

Ms Zrinka Tokic
Australian eChallenge and Incubator International Program Director
Adelaide Business School,  University of Adelaide

Dr Manjula Dissanayake
Adelaide Business School,  University of Adelaide

Mrs Julia Miller
Australian eChallenge Coordinator
Adelaide Business School,  University of Adelaide

Ms Tina Morganella
eChallenge Project Officer
Adelaide Business School,  University of Adelaide


eChallenge winners at the presentation dinner

First place winners with the Governor of South Australia

eChallenge team meeting their pitch judges

eChallenge team pitching

Venture Showcase exhibitors

Venture Showecase

eChallenge France winners

Australian Wool Innovation Tech eChallenge winners

eChallenge alumni joins 40 under 40

Shark Tank eSchool Masterclass


Impacting lifes

We know that entrepreneurial endeavour can change lives and impact society, but we are constantly surprised at the depth and magnitude of that impact, and how it can blossom from a three-month course such as the eChallenge. In 2017, two PhD students formed a team to undertake the eChallenge. One of these students, Jonathan Hall, now Dr Hall, used his AI and Machine Learning knowledge to develop a more efficient and accurate system for selecting viable embryos during IVF treatment.

Whilst the eChallenge is a university course, it is also a competition, and Dr Hall’s team won the Medical Innovations category. Dr Michelle Perugini was Dr Hall’s mentor throughout the eChallenge program, and so impressed was she with the idea’s potential, that together they established a new company – Life Whisperer. Since then, they have secured millions of dollars in funding and won a number of prestigious accolades in Australia and overseas, including ‘Best Idea – One to Watch’ at a Global Technology awards judged by Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson. Now the public can access their services via Flinders Fertility, in Adelaide, Australia. This incredible innovation is not just a scientific revelation, but is also helping couples to make their parenting dreams come true. We’re incredibly proud of the Life Whisperer team – we were the first to offer them incubation, and offer mentorship and guidance. In turn, they have become eChallenge mentors, contributed to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, and developed into leaders with integrity and credibility.


Lessons learned

The eChallenge team follow their own advice – always evolve, learn to fail well, take calculated risks, and seek validation. Our program content never stands still. We listen to feedback and constantly develop and refine our teaching and assessment methods, establish more opportunities for students to access mentors and tap into networks, and encourage students to pursue parallel entrepreneurship opportunities (for example, the Entrepreneurs Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards). This year, we reorientated the program along a Design Thinking framework and focused more on building personal initiative. Our hope is to start measuring not only how many start-ups are launched from the eChallenge, but how students evolve and develop entrepreneurial capabilities that they can then apply to their own field of expertise.

For the eChallenge, this translates as a measure of our impact on our community and the economy. The constantly surprising and humbling element of the eChallenge, is how often we are able to impact people’s lives. Many students from such diverse faculties as economics, arts and computer science undertake the eChallenge simply as a degree elective, but in the process discover their passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. Over the years, hundreds of students have switched degrees, started businesses, formed new connections and found employment as a direct result of the eChallenge.

The key for us is to make entrepreneurship accessible and attractive to all disciplines, cultures, genders and age groups, because entrepreneurs are problem solvers who ultimately provide the solutions to many of life’s problems, big or small.


What's coming?

Whilst the Australian eChallenge will always be student-focussed, we are committed to being strong leaders and influencers in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. We want to incorporate more cross-cultural opportunities for students by offering overseas study tours, and cross-disciplinary opportunities by encouraging enrolments from every faculty of the University. To this end, and for the benefit of students as much as the eChallenge as ecosystem entity, we intend on expanding our scope by in various ways. First, we will be delivering the program in more locations (both in Australia and overseas). We have already negotiated with HELP University, Malaysia, and the University of Mauritius to deliver the eChallenge to their students in person. We have also developed an eChallenge-type program for middle management for both private and government-funded organisations in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia respectively, to develop entrepreneurial capacity in that cohort.
We are developing a new business model around licensing our program, whereby we will deliver the program in the first instance, in a ‘train the trainer’ model, and then allow universities and private organisation to deliver their own subsequent offerings. Importantly, we also want to harness student led-research and innovation and better incorporate it into our valuable network of incubators (in Australia, Singapore, France and soon to be New Zealand). We want more students and graduates to transition into these incubators, so that they can not only learn about entrepreneurship, but ‘do’ entrepreneurship. We believe this will create a unique fretwork of entrepreneurial endeavour, and a supportive network of experienced and novice entrepreneurs.



Students who have completed the program in Australia since 2001


Start-ups launched as a result of eChallenge projects

$3.5 million +

Awarded in cash and prizes


Mentors from industry, government and the community associated with the program

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