Talking innovation with top young scientists

For 30 years, the National Youth Science Forum has been bringing Australia’s top year 12 science students to Canberra for a summer school to nurture and encourage the nation’s next generation of science leaders. In 2016, innovation was on the agenda for the first time, thanks to Inspiring Australia ACT and its host organisation the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN).

NYSF participants gather at the Shine Dome

NYSF participants gather at the Shine Dome

200 teenagers in two separate groups participate each year in the National Science Youth Forum (NSYF), a 12-day residential program that gives students the opportunity to see first-hand some of the country’s top science labs, natural history archives and research institutions.

With innovation and entrepreneurship spoken of as key drivers in the Australian economy, Ingrid McCarthy, ACT’s Inspiring Australia manager, saw a golden opportunity to work with NYSF to hold a session on Entrepreneurial Thinking.

In this session, a range of Canberra-based entrepreneurs shared their career journeys, their thoughts about innovation and problem-solving, and their insights into starting and running your own business as a career option.

The panel was hosted by PwC’s Joshua Gilbert, with panellists:

  • Lachlan Blackhall, from Reposit Power, an energy storage company,
  • Murray Rankin, a serial entrepreneur and head of Rankin Securities,
  • Erica Hediger, who runs The Creative Element, CBRIN’s Makerspace,
  • Katie Doherty, a chemist and lawyer working in intellectual property law, and
  • Rish Ratnam, a NYSF alumnus who lectures on innovation at ANU.

“Entrepreneurship is actually a valid career pathway for young scientists,” says Ingrid.

“A key message for the students was that if you have a fantastic idea that could solve a problem, there’s support for taking the next step.”

“The kids were fascinated by the session. Most stayed back during their lunch break to ask questions. The panellists, too, were so happy to be involved and have the opportunity to connect with the next generation of scientists.”

Visit the Inspiring the ACT website

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