Seven young innovators win share of $70,000 seed funding

Seven young innovators win share of $70,000 seed funding

Seven young Australian innovators are ready to take their ventures to the next level after securing $10,000 in seed funding at a live Sydney pitch up event held by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA).

Ryan Tilley, Caitlin Figueiredo, Madeline Green, Hayley McQuire, Amy Whitten, Sakshi Thakur and Yvonne Xu, were selected from 45 participant pitch-ups in the 2018 Young Social Pioneers program.

The pitch-ups are the culmination of the six month immersive incubator program that helps small businesses and initiatives making a social impact to develop the competencies and networks required to be successful.

FYA CEO, Jan Owen AM said the 2018 cohort were indicative of the potential Australia’s 4.6 million young people possess and reinforced the need for investment in youth entrepreneurship.

“This year’s participants are from all states and territories, diverse backgrounds with vastly different experience and ideas. Each of them are indicative of a generation working with and within systems to create practical, lasting change,” Ms Owen said.

“Our responsibility to these young people is to harness, focus and amplify their ideas, thinking and voices to ensure a better future for our communities, country and planet. This is exactly what Young Social Pioneers aims to do. ”

In the last nine years, Young Social Pioneers has supported more than 290 different initiatives and ideas from young people nationwide, with many former participants still thriving in their work today including Usman Iftikhar, co-Founder of Catalysr; Vanessa Marian, director of Groove Therapy; Jordan O’Reilly, co-Founder of HireUp; Olivia Fleming, Founder and director of The Little HELP Project; Taj Pabari, Founder of Fiftysix Creations; and more.

Young Social Pioneers was made possible through the support of key corporate and philanthropic partners Australian Unity, Citi Australia, Charter Hall, Dyson Bequest, Third Link, Vasudhara and the Wilson Foundation.

For the full 2018 Young Social Pioneers cohort see here.


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

2018 Seed Funding Recipients

Cities + Placemaking Stream – Ryan Tilley

Ryan is a 22 year old designer and engineer from Melbourne. In 2016 Ryan briefly experienced what it was like to have limited mobility, since this experience he has focused on developing products and hardware for those with limited mobility – the elderly and people with a disability. He is currently working on ‘Gecko Traxx’ a product that enables manual wheelchair users to access the beach and other off-road, natural terrain in a way that is portable and affordable. After developing and testing countless prototypes, he is working towards getting the product to market.

Education Stream – Caitlin Figueiredo

Caitlin is a 23 year old social entrepreneur and gender equality activist from Canberra. In 2017 she co-founded ‘Jasiri Australia’ which seeks to alleviate violence and inequality through influencing local and federal policy, self defense and leadership programs for young women. To date, Jasiri has trained more than 900 people in self defense.

Environment Stream – Madeline Green

Madeline is a 27 year old part time shark scientist, part time social entrepreneur working out of Hobart. Madeline is the CEO and co-founder of Otlet; a biological sample sharing database helping research scientists find, share and source samples for their research. By enabling better use of scientific samples, Otlet accelerates how we learn about the natural world. Launched in June 2018, Otlet is growing fast with more than 10,000 samples available connecting hundreds of scientists around the world.

Indigenous Focus Stream – Hayley McQuire

Hayley is a 27 year old Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton, Central Queensland. She is the founder and national coordinator of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition, which advocates for education reform and Indigenous self-determination.

Open Stream – Amy Whitten

Amy is a 25 year old occupational therapist from Echuca in Regional Victoria. In 2016  she co-founded BEAM All Abilities Movement to Music. BEAM’s programs are designed by Amy using evidence based occupational therapy techniques as well as integrating movements and structures seen in dance classes.

Open Stream – Sakshi Thakur

Sakshi is a 24 year old social entrepreneur from Melbourne. She founded ‘Humanism’, which aims to alleviate relative poverty through education and dignified employment opportunities. They currently provide 15 women from rural Pondicherry, with textiles education and dignified employment. The women make and screen print personalised tote and string bags from recycled material and organic cotton.

Youth Mental Health Stream – Yvonne Xu

Yvonne is a 25 year old mental health advocate from Melbourne. Her project LiveToThrive aims to expand the definition of mental healthcare, as not just outsourced to psychologists but something the whole community can all take a part in, helping those around us live with mental health illnesses. LiveToThrive focuses on diet and lifestyle impacts and creates a program that teaches individuals core self-care skills and gives their families and friends a roadmap to support in accessible ways.


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