Startups @ School

Young Business Mind Awards (YBMA) is proud to have I2N Integrated Innovation Network, a part of the University of Newcastle as one of our long-term partners. Did you know that they offer presentations and workshops for year 9 and 10 students on entrepreneurship?

This year we will be working with our partners to provide our teachers and schools with more resources to enable and grow participation in the YBMA because we believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to our future – and that supporting our young people to develop skills in these areas is our duty.

I2N Startups @ School presentations and workshops are presented by leading I2N Startup founders, to inspire a future generation to reimagine what they can achieve in their career. Each program features one I2N Startup founder who, through sharing their story, will give the students a first-hand insight into the life of an entrepreneur.

The program is designed to be flexible and can be delivered at your school (from classes to year groups) or at the University of Newcastle’s Q Building in Newcastle (up to 60 students). There are two options to choose from – the 30-minute option which is perfect for assemblies and career days, featuring a presentation from a local startup founder or the 60-minutes option which also incorporates an interactive workshop into what entrepreneurship is and what the first steps look like once you have an idea.

This program fits seamlessly into the YBMA as it provides the perfect foundation for students to develop the confidence to problem solve, to understand how innovation and entrepreneurship work and to have a go at developing their own BIG IDEA to enter into the awards.

If you are interested in inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs through a Startups @ School presentation or workshop, you can find more information at or contact Tayla Furey, Program Coordinator, (High Schools) at or phone +61 2 49217410. Along with participation in YBMA, it begins a solid foundation in the study of entrepreneurship, business studies and career preparation.

HYBMA 2024

Career Links & HYBMA Join Forces

Hunter Young Business Mind Awards and Career Links have very exciting news! We’ve joined forces to deliver the competition in 2024 and from now on HYBMA will be a Career Links event, delivered to you by the team behind the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Career Expo, the Work Placement Program, Youthlinks, the Future Choices Disability Expo, YAKKA and the Mini Electric Vehicle Challenge.

We are working behind the scenes to have everything ready to launch this year’s competition before the end of March. In the meantime, there are no plans to change the structure of the competition, in this way, teachers and students can begin confidently working on their projects.

Primary schools can enter as individuals or as classes in the category of Sustainability. Secondary schools and tertiary students can enter as individuals or a group in the categories of Sustainability, Business Enterprise, Creative Industries, Design & Technology, or Social Enterprise.

Career Links would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment that has gone into the development of the awards over the years by the founding board of HYBMA and past sub-committee members who were all volunteers. This exciting new phase of the awards brings the expertise of the Career Links team who have extensive experience and relationships with schools, industry and businesses to take HYBMA to the next level.

Let’s make this year’s awards truly amazing – celebrating the innovation, passions and entrepreneurial spirit of our youth.

HYBMA 2023

Celebrating the Hunter’s Young Business Minds 2023 Award Winners

The Hunter Young Business Mind Awards (HYBMA) has celebrated and awarded this year’s young entrepreneurs and innovative teachers at a packed event held at University of Newcastle’s I2N on Honeysuckle.  In it’s sixth year, the awards recognise young people under the age of 25 who have an innovative business concept, product, service or solution and educators for innovation in the classroom.

The event was MC’d by innovation ecosystem connector and Business Development Manager for The University of Newcastle Research Associates, Daniel Smith, who began his own journey into innovation and change making when he was still at high school and believes that traditional jobs are ‘dead’.

“The most important skill you can learn is how to solve problems,” said Daniel. “And that is what all of the award participants have done.”

Supported by local companies such as Hunter Water and Ampcontrol that are seeking next-generation skills to future-proof their business, the awards provide an avenue for our region’s youth to showcase their ideas and network with industry leaders.

“It was amazing getting to speak with industry experts, fellow students and the many other people who attended the awards night,” said 14-year-old Joshua Pidgeon, winner of the Design and Technology award. “I was excited to talk to the Newcastle Airport Astra Aerolab representative for over 30 minutes! I’m hoping to apply again next year.”

Across several different categories, entrants tried to solve real world problems with runners up winning $500 and winners receiving $1000. The problems tackled by the students were wide-ranging and included: accessible self-checkouts; portable washing and spinning device for backpackers; a school uniform recycling program; an app that records where you’ve parked your car; sustainable shelters for school bus stops; milk cartons made from sustainable milk casein and recycled cardboard; a product that promotes nutrient density in the soil and many more innovative ideas.

“I learnt a lot through this project,” said Joshua Pidgeon who developed the sustainable bus shelters. “I learnt about the design process, about pre-modelling and sustainable materials used in construction.”

Lotus Antoni, winner of the Business Enterprise award for her Dairy Way submission has big plans for the future.

“I want to take my concept to UNSW to find the right formula for my sustainable milk carton, to research the correct formula and then take it to the government.”

And perhaps, most moving of all, young 14-year-old Taya Porter who was in a wheelchair, shared her frustrations at inaccessible self-checkouts and the difficulty it places her in when she goes shopping.

“Our design for accessible self-checkouts will provide greater independence for people like me,” said Taya. “It creates a better quality of life for those in a wheelchair and able-bodied people who may not be suited to the usual check out design.”


The Teacher Innovation Award

Runner Up: Caroline Phillips and Amy Radford – Macquarie College – Transdisciplinary Education Program

Winner: Jade Bassett – Rutherford Technology High – Women in Stem     

Primary Students Innovation in Sustainability

Runner up: The Youth Environment Council – Belltrees Primary School – Biological Bubble Bath

Winner: Creative Creators Team – Shoal Bay Primary School – Creative Creators

Secondary & Under 25’s Innovation in Sustainability

Runner up: Isabella McGhie – Belmont Christian College – Izzys Services Sustainability

Winner: Isabelle Donohoe – Hunter Valley Grammar – Aquarinse

Secondary & Under 25’s Innovation in Business Enterprise

Runner up: Annabel McKensey, Zara Campbell, Kiara Drinkwater – Newcastle Grammar – Find my Car

Winner: Lotus Antoni Rutherford High School – Dairy Way

Secondary & Under 25’s Innovation in Social Enterprise

Runner up: Annika van Woerkom – Hunter Valley Grammar – Safe Seats

Winner: Tilly Bevin, Taya Porter, Alice Wilkinson, Emma Collinson, Samia Burke, Laura Gabrielli – Hunter School of Performing Arts – Accessible Self-Checkout

Secondary & Under 25’s Innovation in Design & Technology

Runner up: Charles Cohen – Newcastle Grammar School – Zenithium the future of security assets

Winner: Joshua Pidgeon Bishop Tyrell Anglican College – Star – School Transport and Roads Shelter Plan

Tricia Martin, HYBMA Sub-Committee Chair, CEO of Nudge On and herself an FYA Young Social Pioneer sees the organisation as a proud champion of young innovators across the Hunter region.

“And we don’t plan to slow down,” said Tricia. “In 2024 HYBMA will spotlight and celebrate Hunter youth spanning from Primary School to 25 years of age who have developed entrepreneurial solutions to challenges spanning from sustainability, design and tech to accessibility. The awards will be open from early 2024.”

HYBMA 2023

Career Pathways with Ampcontrol – Gold Sponsor

Innovation is embedded into the DNA of Ampcontrol, and we’re committed to empowering the next generation to challenge the future of energy through sponsoring the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards.

Ampcontrol creates energy solutions of scale using innovation partnerships, our smart people and our advanced Australian manufacturing capabilities. Our vision is to lead the global energy revolution and make net zero a reality.

Every day, the world-first innovations from Ampcontrol help and support customers in all industries to decarbonise. With a proven track record of over half a century of developing custom energy solutions, we’re trusted by customers worldwide to future-proof their business.

We recognise that the energy sector is changing, progressing into renewable sources such as battery/electric, hydrogen and solar to reduce our carbon footprint. With these advancements comes a wealth of jobs and opportunities to make a real impact in the movement towards net zero.

Your unique talents, expertise and insights could play a pivotal role in helping us lead the global energy revolution. If you’re an innovator, thought leader, or someone who is up for challenging the status quo, we want to hear from you.

To make it even easier, here are the three avenues you can choose from:

  1. SCHOOL LEAVERS: From work placements through to traineeships, we provide hands-on learning opportunities for aspiring electricians, electronic technicians, fabricators, and mechanical fitters.
  2. UNIVERSITY GRADUATES: We offer multiple avenues for university undergraduates and recent graduates to gain valuable experience in energy, infrastructure and resource sectors, from Work Integrated Learning and Industrial Placements through to our Graduate Pathways and Graduate Program
  3. APPRENTICE PROGRAMS: Combining study and work experience, our apprentice programs are available in trades such as Electrotechnology, Fabrication, Electronics, Electrical Fitting and Mechanical Fitting and Engineering – Mechanical.

Find out more about our range of career pathways into Ampcontrol and discover how you can play a part in revolutionising industry. ????



HYBMA 2023

Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Essential Skills for the Future

The legacy of the covid pandemic, the rising costs of living and changing technologies all contribute to the evolving employment landscape and the way in which our young people will engage with it. Recent studies* have shown that these circumstances have influenced the way people under the age of 24 perceive their future, with as many as 77 percent of Gen Zs having a strong preference for entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is seen as a way to diversify income streams, to follow your passions and to have more control over your life. The covid pandemic adversely affected our young workers who bore the brunt of 55 percent of the job losses despite only making up 14 percent of the market. This had a significant impact and resulted in many changing their priorities. Gen Z now values passion and work/life balance over everything else, including financial reward, and much more so than previous generations.

Add into this equation the effects of changes to technology and the rise in AI and it’s easy to understand why young people want to have more control over their choices. In terms of traditional employment, many of the jobs our children will work in actually don’t exist yet. Then there are the opportunities that AI opens up for tech savvy innovators. 

According to Peter F Drucker of the Harvard Business Review: “Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, … It is the means by which the entrepreneur either creates new wealth-producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential for creating wealth.”

In other words, you can’t really be an entrepreneur without embracing the need for creative thinking and innovation. So as the world continues to evolve, our young people will need to cultivate skills that will empower them to thrive in a landscape of constant change. Entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, along with flexibility and resilience are critical skills to develop for future success.

The Hunter Young Business Mind Awards (HYBMA) has been providing a showcase opportunity for children and young people under the age of 25 to develop entrepreneurial projects since 2017. Young people are encouraged to enter a business idea, design a new product or showcase a creative project for a chance to win $1000 of seed funding and recognition at an industry networking awards night. It’s not just about winning an award; it’s about taking a step closer to a future where their ideas can make a difference.

In 2018, Belmont Christian College year 11 students won two awards. The Business Studies teacher, Mr Ross Urane, recommends the awards to students and teachers at other schools and already has students who have entered this year.

“Anything that inspires our young people is great,” said Mr Urane.  “These awards deliver the opportunity for innovative thinking and problem solving … something that will become critically important in their future. We already run a Shark Tank expo where students pitch their ideas, so entering the pitch into the awards is not difficult.”

There is also an opportunity to network with industry at the awards night.

“The awards night is more than just a ceremony; it’s an opportunity for students to connect with local professionals who have already made their mark,” said Tricia Martin, CEO of Nudge On, Digital Learning and Employment Solutions Consultancy and Chair of the HYBMA Sub Committee. “It’s a chance to network and seek advice, bridging the gap between classroom projects and real-world applications. Even the venue, the Q Building, adds an exciting dimension. As the entrepreneurial hub of Newcastle, it’s the perfect place to showcase projects and make connection with local industry leaders.”

HYBMA provides parents and teachers with the resources needed to encourage the young people in their lives to enter the awards, to have a go and see where their ideas can take them. Categories include Sustainability, Creative Industries, Design & Technology, Social Enterprise, and Business. To enter, students prepare a simple pitch deck and a two-minute video and submit through the website at Entries close on October 9 and the awards night will be held on November 15.

*The studies referred to: GoDaddy/Antenna 2023 Research; Frontline Recruitment Group January 2023; The Square Gen Z Survey by Wakefield Research April 2023


Inspiration to Innovate – Corbin’s Story

Corbin Breckell was just 11years of age when he won second place in his age category in the 2022 Hunter Young Business Mind Awards for his innovative business idea. Corbin’s business idea was called ‘Cool Fire’ and combined his Aboriginal cultural heritage with environmental and sustainable practices.

Corbin participated in the gifted education Virtual Academy program and was encouraged by his teachers at St Columbus Primary School in Adamstown to enter his research project in the awards. Inspiration came from an awareness of the growing bush fire danger due to climate change and his understanding of his Aboriginal ancestral (Wailwan, Kamilaroi and Guringai tribes) burning practices.

Corbin’s business idea, Cool Fire, is an Aboriginal cultural burning workshop for children aged 8 and over. Participants learn about the cultural burning practices of lighting ‘cool’ fires – lower temperature fires – in a controlled, safe manner to burn off excess growth, reducing the fuel that causes out of control bush fires. The lower temperature fires retain the seeds and roots required for new growth and do much less damage to the bush and wildlife.  

Corbin’s two-minute video pitch, required as entry into the awards, explained that he chose the name Cool Fire because not only is the fire run at a lower temperature, but the idea is kind of ‘cool’ and fun. The pitch includes details of what workshop participants would learn, the fact that a portion of the proceeds would go to support the Karrkad Kannjdji Trust which aims to protect and restore the West Arnhem Land Plateau and the employment opportunities for indigenous people.

Corbin recommends entering the awards to others. “I felt excited that I came 2nd,” said Corbin. “I was given the opportunity to grow the idea further and received a generous prize that will help me achieve my dreams. I haven’t spent the money yet, but I have started reading about businesses and investing. I learnt that a little idea can go a long way. Even young people can have an idea that can change the world.”

Entry into the awards is simple with a 2-minute video and a pitch deck required. Many schools are already running entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability programs that can easily be adapted for entry – and with Design and Technology and Creative Industries also added to the category list this year, there is plenty of opportunity for students from any school to enter and have a go. Details can be found at

To view Corbin’s video pitch and to read more about it, the Newcastle Herald ran a story: Hunter student recognised for research into cultural burning | Newcastle Herald | Newcastle, NSW

HYBMA 2023

Seeking NextGen Innovators – Win $1000

Jahluvi Mtanda at work

Hunter Young Business Mind Awards (HYBMA) are on the lookout for the Hunter region’s budding entrepreneurs. Now in its sixth year, the awards recognise young people under the age of 25 who have an innovative business concept, product, service or solution.

Last year, 14-year-old Jahluvi Mtanda won his category inspired by his mother who encouraged him to explore his art talent with an eye toward entrepreneurship.

“I won my award for my ‘off the screens onto the canvas’ project,” said Jahluvi. “I wanted to encourage young people to take some time off the screens and explore their inner artist. I didn’t expect to win. It was surreal.”

Jahluvi now runs his own business, Jah Arts and Designs offering Munch & Paint packages for young people as well as selling his own artworks and merchandise. Jahluvi was recently highly commended at the Hunter Business Excellence Awards.

“I have a full operational business now and I have a busy week managing school, my business and basketball. I’ve learnt how to manage money and I’ve gained so much confidence. My advice to anyone thinking about entering the awards is to do it. Do not ever be scared to do what you would like to do.”

Primary students enter the Innovation in Sustainability award as a classroom. Designed to encourage primary school students to take action towards protecting the environment by developing a sustainable project or business idea that makes a positive impact on the planet, it aligns with the current curriculum.

Secondary students and under 25s enter as individuals choosing from five different categories: Sustainability, Business Enterprise, Design & Technology, Social Enterprise & Creative Industries. Designed to fold seamlessly into the work already being done in the classrooms, the teacher’s information packs even come with curriculum mapping.

Not forgetting hard working teachers, there’s even an award that recognises educators who have developed and implemented innovative ideas that have made a significant impact on teaching and learning outcomes in the classroom.

Co-Chair of the Board and CEO of The Finer Line, Cheryl Royale has seen an extraordinary range of innovations since the awards began in 2017.

“Over the past 6 years we have seen amazing ideas and innovations,” said Cheryl. “Many of our young entrants are driven by a deep desire to make a positive change in society.  For example, our 2017 runner up Tyler Regan from Tomaree High started a low cost online student rewards software program that he went on to sell for a substantial profit. Our 2021 first prize winners, Myla Tucker and Olivia Lorenz are now running Cinnamon Cove, a tween swimwear label and filling a definite gap in the market for age appropriate, stylish swimwear that respects the planet. It proves that awards like HYBM provide them with a platform to pursue their passions, solve societal challenges, and make a positive impact on the world.”

Tricia Martin, HYBMA Sub-Committee Chair, CEO of Nudge On and herself an FYA Young Social Pioneer agrees with Cheryl about the importance of providing such a platform.

“The real value of Hunter Young Business Minds is its impact over decades, not just days,” said Tricia. “By championing Hunter’s youth to tackle complex challenges, making a positive impact on both people and the planet through entrepreneurship, we are safeguarding the future of our region. Offering a platform for young minds to explore, innovate, and validate their ideas at an early stage, we are cultivating a generation of problem solvers who don’t just think about entrepreneurship but see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

The awards are sponsored by Ampcontrol, Hunter Water, Newcastle Airport, University of Newcastle I2N, Intouch Magazine and Spectrum Communications.

Winners take home $1000 and an opportunity for business mentorship. Runners up receive $500.

Entries for the awards are now open with further details to be found at