Melbourne Innovator wins competition to Study at Silicon Valley University
A young Melbourne entrepreneur has won the Singularity University’s Global Impact Competition in Australia thanks to his revolutionary carpooling concept, and will now travel to California with a $30,000 scholarship.
Zezan Tam, a graduate from The University of Melbourne, came up with Carpooler, a smartphone application that runs in the cloud to make carpooling easy, saving time and cost for drivers and helping reduce congestion and transport-related pollution.
The $30,000 scholarship will see Mr Tam attend the 10-week Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University, at the NASA Ames Research Centre in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Singularity University was founded by physician and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and author and inventor Ray Kurzweil alongside Google, Cisco and Nokia to name a few. The university’s Graduate Studies Program is designed to inspire and equip leaders who want to build innovative solutions to address global challenges.
The aim of the competition was to come up with an idea that could positively impact more than one million Australians. Mr Tam said he applied because he had an idea that he believed was important to the world, and Singularity University would be the perfect place to germinate that idea into reality.
“Technology has the power and potential to vastly improve all our lives – I’d love to spend my life making that happen,” Mr Tam said.
The panel of judges, composed of Dr Clarence Tan, Singularity University Ambassador for Australia and Malaysia, Dr Alan Finkel, Chancellor of Monash University and Dr John Puttick, Chairman GBST Limited, said Mr Tam’s idea was truly innovative and showed strong intellectual capacity.
Queenslander Mark McConville was also recognised by the judges, winning second prize with a unique comedy-based entertainment and educational program. He will receive mentorship and support services from Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) and the Gold Coast Innovation Centre, worth more than $16,000.
Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Ian Walker said Queensland was delighted to support the scholarship.
“The Australian Global Impact Competition very much aligns with our goal of supporting an innovative business culture in Queensland.
“Innovation is the key to economic growth and increasing productivity. It also opens up new markets for our products and services, particularly in the growing Asian markets,” Mr Walker said.
Dr Clarence Tan said the competition was a great opportunity to encourage and identify potential innovative Australians.
“I hope the competition will expand to include other nations in Asia-Pacific in the near future as we had many queries this year from citizens of neighbouring countries,” he said.
John Puttick, Chairman for GBST Holdings, one of the competition sponsors, emphasised GBST’s support for technology that is easily accessed and cost-effective to deploy.
“This is a great example of how cloud and mobile technologies integrate for an easily accessible outcome for anyone. We live in a world where the always on technology solutions we use in our business lives, can now have direct benefit to our personal lives and this is a great step forward,” he said.
Mr Tam will travel to California to join 79 other participants from around the world in June and will be exposed to investors, funding bodies and mentors who are part of the Singularity University network.
The program will create an unparalleled opportunity for him to work in international and interdisciplinary teams to address large-scale humanitarian challenges.
Mr Tam will also receive a scholarship from Singularity University partner, Creative Universe, which delivers a range of creative leadership and innovation programs to help extraordinary leadership performance and productivity.
Creative Universe will support Mr Tam’s attendance at the Creative Innovation Global conference taking place in November, which gives participants an opportunity to present their vision for the future.
The Singularity University Australian Global Impact Competition was jointly funded by the Queensland Government, GBST Limited, the Gold Coast Innovation Centre and the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC). National sponsors were Springwise, The University of the Sunshine Coast’s Innovation Centre, In a Day and Creative Innovation.