The two-week program connects aspiring women founders with professional networks and industry experts, enabling them to up-skill to launch their own startups. Successful applicants form teams and submit pitches for their start-ups, with the top 10 given the opportunity to pitch live for cash and in-kind prizes.

Earlier, this year, the program was held in a new hybrid format, involving a virtual learning platform, in-person networking and a live showcase at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre. A new Faculty of Engineering award, worth $2,500, was also introduced to celebrate The Engineering Faculties ongoing commitment to inspiring diversity, empowering women Engineers, regardless of age or background. When asked about the award Associate Professor Rita Henderson said, “We are so thrilled to recognise the outstanding talent and achievement of UNSW women and give UNSW women the recognition they deserve.”

Cohort 9 team ‘Wayfinder’ was the announced the first recipient of the Faculty of Engineering Award for their concept designed to enable better navigation through complex hospital systems. Founded by Hannah Young, Dr Jill Rathborne and Dr Katarzyna Clarke, Wayfinder was conceived to improve hospital experiences, hospital efficiency and health outcomes by providing patients, staff and visitors with simple directions to specific wards and departments that can be accessed via on-site screens and from mobile phones.

Dr Jill Rathborne said that the group came into the program with a shared passion to develop a meaningful idea that would have a real and positive impact on people’s lives.

“The three of us found each other through networking and random word-of-mouth connections with other participants during O-Week for the New Wave Program. After lots of discussions around problems, potential solutions, our own personal skills and experiences, we landed on Wayfinder, a solution to help everyone navigate independently through complex hospitals to improve patient outcomes,” said Dr Rathborne.

Hannah Young added, “Our focus was on developing an idea that could be the foundations for a successful and sustainable business, and in making sure we could each contribute to it in a unique way. We went from a long list of ideas to one final idea, as each of our experiences, skill, knowledge, expertise and passion came into play. “

Dr Clarke said reflected on the group’s experience in the program, saying, “Our three-week journey was intense and challenging, and incredibly rewarding - made all the better for our shared passion, complementary skills, and diverse perspectives.”

Representing the Faculty of Engineering were two standout undergraduate students who were part of the teams awarded cash prizes - Ivy Feng and Jiyana Thankam Jaico. Ivy Feng was part of the winning team who was awarded $4000 for ‘Tidda’, an initiative connecting IT students with start-ups to enable them the students to gain valuable work experience and the starts-ups to acquire cost-effective technical support. Jiyana Thankam Jaico was part of the team awarded the Peoples Choice

prize of $1500 for ‘LifeLight’—an innovative platform offering support to Indian women to allow them take control of their well-being and live their best lives possible.

“We are so grateful to Engineering Faculty for creating this opportunity to rally around UNSW’s outstanding female talent, unlock their potential, and impact our entwined communities in a way that creates positive impact beyond New Wave. It is because of this collaboration, that we’ve also seen a lot more tech ideas coming through, including in Cohort 10,” said UNSW Founders Program Senior Manager Kristen Phillips.

“Furthermore, the calibre of Women in Engineering students on the campus is second to none.”

As UNSW Founders’ dedicated startup program for women, New Wave has helped over 500 women develop their own startup ideas and entrepreneurial skills – and led to over 48% of UNSW Founders’ startups featuring a woman founder, more than double the industry average. Cohort 9 & 10 saw over 100 women participate, supported by 70 mentors, speakers and coaches.

“What comes through New Wave reflects the potential of a women-focussed entrepreneurial program,” explained Program Manager Victoria Rose-Tucker.

“Meaningful problems that might otherwise get overlooked become the front-and-centre focus for our women-led startups, and we’ve seen this demonstrated in our top 10.” Expressions of interest for the next round of the New Wave program are open now.