A STEM education start-up founded by a UNSW Science researcher  has won second prize and $100,000 in seed funding in the second NSW Government R&D Innovation Districts Challenge .

Arludo collaborates with UNSW on a suite of mobile apps and games to teach STEM and allow students to collate science data and collaborate in real time.

“This is such an enormous win for Arludo, and I couldn't be more excited for our team. I'm really excited that the committee saw value in what we are doing and the difference that we're trying to make,”  Founder and Director of Arludo, UNSW Associate Professor Michael Kasumovic said.

The R&D Districts Challenge, which brings together universities, local businesses and CSIRO, is a NSW government initiative aimed at accelerating new products and services to market, and equip the NSW economy to bounce back from COVID-19.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the second Challenge was designed to find R&D solutions that fostered economic resilience, which is vital following the economic and business disruption caused by the pandemic.

“By backing businesses and driving innovation all across NSW, we’re helping to stimulate the economy, grow industries and create jobs,” Minister Ayres said.

The timing of the Challenge comes after a complex year for many start-ups, including Arludo.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit us really hard, and we had to completely pivot how we were delivering our programs," the A/Prof in the Evolution & Ecology Centre said. 

"But we've come out stronger with a much more flexible product that kids, parents, and teachers are loving.

"We're getting so many positive comments from everyone that reinforce the fact that we're on the right track to help students across Australia."

Arludo aims to use the seed funding to invest in long term plans – including scaling to help students and teachers.

“With these funds, we'll be hiring some new team members and working with UNSW Sydney on different research outcomes,” A/Prof Kasumovic said.

“From developing machine learning algorithms to helping teachers identify struggling students and making learning much more exciting, to learning studies that help us ensure our programs are the best they can be.”

NSW Government has one more Innovation District Challenge planned, as part an $11 million innovation scaleup commitment, designed to support business communities across NSW to develop innovations to tackle the many challenges of COVID-19.

A/Prof Kasumovic urged his fellow start-ups to apply.

“There is such a wonderful and strong start-up community in Sydney and it's great to be a part of that community and get support like this from the government,” he said.

“If you have a product that can make a difference, you should definitely apply. It's programs like these that can make an enormous difference to the success of a business.”