MEDIA RELEASE: 2017 Young Social Pioneers program accelerates 60 ideas for change

MEDIA RELEASE: 2017 Young Social Pioneers program accelerates 60 ideas for change

60 of Australia’s brightest young changemakers have been selected by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) to take part in the 2017 Young Social Pioneers (YSP) social innovation incubator program.

Selected from over 400 applications, this year’s participants hail from diverse communities across all states and territories. The innovative ventures selected include teaching Auslan via virtual reality, a fashion label turning water bottles into leggings and a program working to provide Indigenous communities with improved access to eye health care services.        

Now in its eighth year of operation, with an alumni of over 200, YSP is Australia’s first, and only, national youth entrepreneurship incubator designed exclusively for young people leading initiatives that respond to society’s most pressing challenges.

FYA CEO, Jan Owen AM, said this year’s cohort represented the untapped potential of Australia’s 4.3 million young people and reinforced the need for investment in youth entrepreneurship.

“Australia remains one of the only advanced economies without dedicated youth entrepreneurship initiatives supported by the government. According to a 2013 Ernst and Young report, the Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity for Australia is 8.7% well below the USA at 13.5% for 18 to 24 year olds,” Ms Owen says.

“Our country’s young entrepreneurs, highlighted by our 2017 cohort, have a strong sense of purpose, fresh ideas for change and unfettered, original thinking. To secure our economic and social prosperity, we need young Australians to be equipped and supported to drive new innovations and business opportunities for themselves and their communities. This is exactly what YSP aims to do.”

With a focus on innovation and sustainable solutions, YSP develops the competencies, networks and links to the broader ecosystem required to be a successful young entrepreneur. At the culmination of the program participants pitch their ideas to a live audience for a piece of $90,000 in seed funding.

Many young people who started their journey in YSP: including Jordan O’Reilly, co-founder of Hire Up, Elliot Costello, co-founder of YGAP, Genevieve Clay Smith, founder of BusStop films, Bridie Ritchie, co-founder of Sprout and Josh Muir, a young indigenous artist are now globally recognized young social change leaders. The collective impact and reach of their ventures have affected millions of lives, both here in Australia and overseas.

“YSP offers intensive training, mentoring and venture development and connects entrepreneurs to our eco-system including the alumni, opportunities for business collaboration, to pool knowledge, learn and grow from each other,” Ms Owen explains.

By connecting young changemakers through this national program we increase our potential for challenging the status quo, addressing the socio-economic inequalities and building a world that future generations want to live in.”

The Young Social Pioneers program kicks off on September 6. Meet this year’s participants here.


For all media enquiries please contact FYA Media Manager, Shona McPherson via 0407 507 580 or

About Young Social Pioneers (YSP)

Young Social Pioneers (YSP) is Australia’s only national incubator designed to exclusively support young people leading initiatives that respond to society’s most pressing challenges. FYA supports young people leading change through advocacy, community organising or social business. The incubator program includes three intensives, each comprised of skill and capability building workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities. YSP is a highly tailored experience for 16-29 year olds leading social change initiatives at all stages of development, from an idea through to an existing venture. 

The 2017 program has positions for 60 participants across 7 categories including:

Arts – Supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Sustainability – Supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Environment – Supported by the The Dyson Bequest

Open – Supported by The Dyson Bequest, The Sunshine Foundation, The Nelson Meers Foundation, Andy Myer & Kerry Gardner

Youth Mental Health – Supported by The Wilson Foundation

Education – Supported by UBS

Indigenous Focus – Supported by Citi

Cities and Placemaking – Supported by Charter Hall

Health – Supported by Abbott


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