A 3D printing program for K-8 classrooms is one of 20 tech initiatives chosen for a new accelerator being run by PwC to help boost Australian science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education initiatives.
PwC, in conjunction with several organisations, is investing $2.5 million in its 21st Century Minds Accelerator program over the next 18 months.
Johanthan Soong, CEO of Adelaide-based Makers Empire – the developer of the 3D printing program and 3D design software – said the accelerator program will enable the company to take the next step.
Makers Empire won government support through the first round of ‘accelerating commercialisation’ grants awarded by the Department of Industry in 2014.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with PwC and Education ChangeMakers to help us get a better foothold in the NSW and Victorian market,” Soong said.
“The connections and credibility the program brings will be an enormous help to Makers Empire,” he said.
Soong added that 3D printing is a gateway for more females to study STEM subjects.
“More girls go into design than coding and 3D printing is a bridge between the two,” he said.
Other winning initiatives are targeted at primary school children up to university graduates and include an app that turns playgrounds into STEM exploration places, robotics and coding workshops, and virtual learning environments.
Other initiatives focused on improving outcomes for under-represented groups, including females, Indigenous Australians, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Support for finalists in 2016 include the potential to share in $400,000 of PwC services during the acceleration phase, and a small, dedicated mentor team during the year from PwC and its partners.
There’s a fully funded position in an accelerator program from one of the providers, Education ChangeMakers, Foundation for Young Australians, Impact Academy, or Social Traders. Finalists will also get the opportunity to pitch to potential investors and funders in November 2016.
The program is being supported by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Google, Microsoft, NAB, BP, GE, Monash University, Social Ventures Australia, AI Group, CPA Australia, and Chartered Accountants ANZ.
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