Announcing our new strategic partners

PwC is proud to announce it’s new strategic partners for the 21st Century Minds (21CM) program. We are continuing our relationship with Little Scientists and Teach for Australia. Both organisations are focused on education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and have been working with us for the past 12 months as part of our 21CM Accelerator program.

Little Scientists and Teach for Australia will each receive $250,000 of in-kind services and will work with a PwC partner sponsor to determine how the firm can best support their growth.

“We’re really excited to continue partnering with these two fantastic initiatives to help lift STEM education and promote the skills that are vital for our country’s future prosperity,” PwC Managing Partner and STEM Leader, Tony Peake said.

“We need better STEM content and skills development in the early years of education but it can be difficult to get support for spending because the economic payback doesn’t happen until the individual is through the education system and earning a wage,” he said.

Little Scientists run workshops for early education providers to empower them to implement age-appropriate STEM exploration. This year, PwC will support them in taking their workshops to regional and remote communities.

Teach for Australia help high-achieving graduates and professionals start work as teachers in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged schools. The organisation is working to remedy the “out-of-field” issue teachers often face (teaching a subject without specific training in that subject) by getting the nation’s brightest STEM teachers into disadvantaged classrooms.

Speaking about the opportunity, Sibylle Seidler from Little Scientists said: “Little Scientists Australia is excited and proud to have been chosen by PwC for a strategic relationship. As a not-for-profit organisation with the overarching objective of making high quality education accessible to all children we strongly identify with PwC’s purpose “of building trust in society and solving important problems”.

“We truly believe that we can change the educational landscape of Australia. Together with our Early Childhood educators and teachers, and strong strategic partners, we ignite curious minds. We know collaboration is key to our success and long-term impact. So, it is with great joy, excitement and pride, that we are partnering with PwC.”

Founder and CEO Melodie Potts Rosevear from Teach For Australia added: “We’re excited that PwC have seen merit in the Teach For Australia program, particularly as 40 to 50 per cent of our participants are from STEM backgrounds and teach STEM subjects in disadvantaged secondary schools.

“We are thrilled PwC will work with us to understand what further value there might be to bringing such STEM specialists into earlier years, for example early childhood and primary education settings. This is such an important priority for our students and also our nation’s prosperity.”

For more information read the press release here.

21st Century Minds reaches a major milestone

STEM is currently a hot topic in the press, with extensive coverage of Australia’s Science and Maths performance remaining stagnant for the last 20 years. We recognised that this was a problem worth solving back in 2014 and went about determining the role that PwC could play in solving it.

At the start of this year we proudly launched our flagship education initiative, the 21st Century Minds Accelerator (21CM) Program. Twenty of Australia’s best science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education initiatives were selected to participate in the program, designed to unearth, grow and scale their ventures.

Created with PwC’s global purpose of building trust and solving important problems in mind, we saw a strong need for Australia to ensure it’s reputation as an innovation nation. The 21CM program was designed in response to broad, cross sector stakeholder engagement on how PwC could add value to improving STEM education outcomes in Australia. Rather than creating another initiative we harnessed the skills and expertise in the firm and channeled it into growing 20 of Australia’s best STEM education initiatives.

It was a unique way for the firm to deliver social impact through collaboration. We have co-designed and collaborated with a wide variety of our clients and other stakeholders such as the Office of the Chief Scientist, Google, NAB, BP, Education Changemakers and the Foundation for Young Australians. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our passionate community for their contribution to the program and their commitment to improving educational outcomes in STEM.

“The access you gave participants to businesses, government and the education sector, in a setting that made it ok for them to ask for support, was outstanding.” Accelerator collaborator, Foundation for Young Australians

By leveraging the skills, knowledge, expertise and networks of the community, the 21CM program has successfully amplified the impact of these twenty initiatives, which collectively reach over 150,000 students, 900 teachers and 3,500 schools across Australia.

Luke Kerr, founder of Real Time Learning said,

“This has been a most rewarding and timely experience and opportunity for our initiative. I can honestly say this has helped us achieve what could have potentially taken years to achieve.”

Ashley van Krieken of Emerging Sciences Victoria at John Monash Science School also remarked,

“Great program! Participating in it changed my view of PwC, in addition to the other mentors such as Australia Post and NAB. Corporate Australia needs to be fully behind these types of programs and PwC has shown great leadership in this regard.”

The program culminated with two showcase events in Sydney and Melbourne last month, with the 20 initiatives pitching to an audience of teachers, education leaders, investors and those passionate about supporting STEM education in Australia. At both events, the audience voted for the “21CM Innovator of the Year”, with each winner receiving $10,000 from PwC. The winners were the National Indigenous Science and Education Program (NISEP) in Sydney and Code the Future in Melbourne.

The next phase of this program will see us form strategic partnerships with two of the 21CM initiatives in 2017, where we will invest $500,000 in services to continue to amplify the scale and impact of their organisations. We will announce these partnerships early next year.

Finally, we’d like to congratulate all 20 initiatives for your continued hard work and dedication throughout the program. We’re proud this experience has helped scale and accelerate the impact you’re having on the STEM landscape in Australia.

Check out the videos below of our final workshop and Showcase events.

Workshop 3 highlights

Sydney Innovator of the Year – NISEP

Melbourne Innovator of the Year – Code the Future

Kirstyn Chan works in PwC Australia’s Social Impact team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program.  Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c.


Developing 21st century students

Our 21st Century Minds collaborators share their views on the top three things that need to change in our schools to prepare our students for the 21st century. Hear from Dr Roslyn Prinsley from the Office of the Chief Scientist and a wide variety of education experts from around Australia as they discuss their tips on what it takes to develop 21st century students equipped for the jobs of the future.

It’s really important that when we are preparing students for the future, that we actually make it real and tangible. That we talk about the jobs, we showcase people who are working in creative and innovative industries. We need to provide inspiration and aspiration for how they can find a pathway forward.

Sally-Ann Williams, Google Australia

The mentoring journey of Code Like a Girl

A critical element of the 21st Century Minds (21CM) Accelerator Program is our mentor teams. Led by a PwC partner, each team consists of mentors with either a corporate or educational background, from the 21CM community of collaborators. Over the course of the program, these mentor teams have provided strategic advice and support to their initiatives, enabling them to grow and develop their ventures. We saw the significant impact these teams were having and decided to sit down with the team behind Code Like a Girl to find out more about their inspiring mentoring relationship.

Led by PwC partner Cameron Lynch, the Code Like a Girl mentor team meet regularly to give founder Ally Watson advice and ensure she is making progress against her goals and objectives. A key factor in the success of their relationship has been the diversity of the group and the collaboration across sectors. Additionally, as part of his role as lead mentor, Cameron was able to strengthen his relationship with two of his clients, bringing them on board to be additional mentors in the team.

Watch the video below to see how this relationship has been pivotal to Code Like a Girl’s development.

Kirstyn Chan works in PwC Australia’s Corporate Responsibility team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program.  Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c.

21st Century Minds hits the midway mark

Highlights from workshop 2 – business skills & the education market.

The 21st Century Minds (21CM) Accelerator program has hit the halfway mark! Our second workshop was a great success, providing yet another opportunity for collaboration and learning across the network.

On August 4 and 5, the 21CM community consisting of our 20 initiatives, industry and education collaborators, accelerator providers and mentors, came together in Melbourne, providing everyone with another opportunity to reconnect.

Listening to feedback received from the initiatives at the completion of the first workshop, we dedicated each day of the workshop to a separate topic – business skills and education – to ensure we had the right skills and expertise in the room to answer all the initiatives’ burning questions.

Day one was facilitated by PwC’s The Difference and aimed at continuing to build on the business foundations of the 21CM initiatives, by leveraging the wealth of knowledge and expertise from across the 21CM network. We were lucky enough to be joined by a number of subject matter experts from PwC, our industry collaborators, including Dr Roslyn Prinsley from the Office of the Chief Scientist, who delivered a keynote speech sharing her insights, learnings and advice on tackling a range of challenges and opportunities within Australia’s STEM education landscape.

“Our students are not just unprepared, they’re uninspired…”

Dr Roslyn Prinsley, Office of the Chief Scientist

During the day we also held dedicated ‘build, share and learn‘ sessions on topics such as: accessing various funding sources, impact investment and measurement, design thinking for problem solving, strategic planning processes, organisational growth and culture. Collectively, the network built a range of valuable solutions to address these areas.

On day two, the team from one of our accelerator partners, Education Changemakers (EC), provided expert advice on how a STEM venture can succeed in the Australian education market. With diverse backgrounds, experience and skills across the education space, the EC team shared a range of practical tools and insights to help our initiatives better navigate the education sector. The sessions covered how to sell your products and services more effectively, understanding how different states and education systems function, and how to build a movement of teachers who trust and love your product.

As we move into the final stage of the 21CM program, we’re looking forward to bringing the community together again on November 10 and 11 for the third and final workshop, before concluding with program with two Showcase events in Sydney and Melbourne on November 18 and 21, respectively. Please contact Chelsea Cobb if you would like further information on these events.

Don’t forget to check out the highlight videos from each day below!

Day 1 highlights

Day 2 highlights

Kirstyn Chan works in PwC Australia’s Corporate Responsibility team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program.  Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c.

Getting to know our initiatives: apptEDUde

Summer learning loss. The phenomenon that strikes school children over summer as they swap schoolbooks for swimming and slurpees. It is the educational gap that leads to a drop in academic skills and knowledge over the school holidays. Marko Njavro and his team have created a program called apptEDUde which aims to keep students learning over summer. We caught up with Marko to find out more about the program.

Tell me a little bit about apptEDUde.

apptEDUde is an initiative bringing to market a K-6 educational game which will help children avoid the “summer learning loss” in a fun and engaging way. Our initial focus is on the STEM subjects, given the importance of these skills going forward to both the students and Australia. Our team consists of Dr Branwen Morgan, Brian Powyer, Joel McInnes and myself. We have combined experience in Neuroscience, STEM journalism, education and entrepreneurship. Our technology partner in the venture is 2and2 games.

Why did you decide to create an offering to target ‘Summer Learning Loss’?

While reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, we were surprised to learn that in the US, the “Summer Learning Loss” was understood to account for as much as 80% of the difference in achievement for students between low and high-socioeconomic families. In a world full of complex and daunting problems, it seemed that there was something very specific which we could target and potentially have an impact on a large scale. We subsequently investigated the existence of the problem in an Australian context and found that while the same issue exists here, it manifests itself slightly differently – affecting the level of learning in Terms 4 and 1. Our own survey of teachers showed that 90% thought that students forgot content knowledge over the school holidays.

What impact have you seen as a result of launching apptEDUde?

To validate the existence of the problem and our solution for it, we partnered with Wilkins Public School in Marrickville in Sydney. 97 students took part in the pilot (26 in the test group and 71 in the control group). We administered a pre-test for both groups before school holidays and then gave the test group a tablet pre-loaded with our game. The 26 students played the game over holidays (75% completion was required to be counted as valid).

Upon the return to school, we administered the post-test (identical to pre-test). What we found was a statistically significant improvement in the test group across both Science and Maths, controlling for a range of variables in our control. Children and the parents also completed a survey which showed high levels of engagement and satisfaction. All this combined gave us the confidence to proceed with a vastly improved version of the product, utilising the latest advances in neuroscience and evidence based approaches.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities around STEM in Australia?

The government and big business are certainly making all the right noises around STEM and its importance to the future of Australia. The question is whether the required pace of change can be actioned through curriculum changes, or whether the private sector will have to come in with solutions which will supplement the official education system. That presents an opportunity for all the initiatives in 21st Century Minds.

What has been the most beneficial aspect of 21st Century Minds so far?

The whole program has been incredible, but I would like to single out our team of mentors for praise.

They have injected a huge deal of enthusiasm, ideas and professionalism. The combined networks of the mentors in our team will be a game-changer for us once we’re ready for them to make the right introductions.

We also caught up with the lead mentor for apptEDUde, PwC Partner, Aaron Le Poidevin to find out what his experience has been like supporting the apptEDUde team.

As a mentor what experience and insight do you provide to the team at apptEDUde?

Having been involved in a number of early stage ventures, it has been great to be able to share those experiences with Marko and the apptEDUde team. Hopefully it has saved them some of the pain they would have otherwise experienced! Being able to leverage the PwC network to make relevant connections has also been an important part of my lead mentor role.

What has been the highlight of your mentoring relationship so far?

The highlight of the mentoring relationship to date has been to see the progression of their minimum viable product and their ability to attract market leaders in their field to their advisory team. This will make them well placed for rapid growth.

Watch the video below for our two minutes with Marko.

Kirstyn Chan is part of PwC Australia’s Corporate Responsibility team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program. Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c for updates.

What’s the role of technology in education?

Hear from some our 21st Century Minds industry collaborators and education experts as they share their views on the role of technology in education and how it should be used to facilitate learning and change the way children interact with it.

The most important thing is changing children from becoming consumers of technology to becoming the creators of it.

Emma Milburn, GE

Getting to know our initiatives: Makers Empire

Makers Empire is an educational software organisation dedicated to helping students thrive by equipping them with skills in design thinking and problem solving. They’ve created the world’s easiest to use 3D printing software, specifically designed for K-8 classrooms, which is supported by a comprehensive 3D Printing Learning Program – the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Makers Empire also seek to empower educators to effectively incorporate 3D design and printing into their classrooms and help students enhance their understanding and mastery of design thinking and 21st Century learning skills.

The reach of Makers Empire is continuing to grow, so we caught up with CEO Jon Soong to find out how they’re improving the STEM education landscape in Australia and what it’s like being the face of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda campaign!

Why did you and your co-founders start Makers Empire?

Makers Empire was started to enable teachers and children from kindergarten to Year 8 to be part of the future in technology and advanced manufacturing. We wanted to get in on the earlier years because if you wait until Year 8 to teach in this area, a lot of kids are self-selecting themselves out of it.

The concept started when my co-founder Roland Peddie decided to develop a game on his iPad for his daughter to create and customise characters and objects. He realised that a lot of gamers spend more time customising their characters and that a child’s curiosity and learning is regularly sparked by building things. We knew 3D printing was on the rise and saw the perfect opportunity to create a program that allows children to design an object and turn it into reality by creating a 3D model.

Roland shared this concept with me at a BBQ and we began discussing ideas on where it could be used. My wife, who was a teacher, suggested taking it to a school. We organised with my old school to try it out with some students and we were blown away by the reaction from both the kids and the teachers. At this point we knew we were on to something. We were accepted into the ANZ Innovyz START accelerator program and I quit my job to concentrate on it full time.

What inspires you in your role as CEO?

Creating a positive impact on the world by developing a worthwhile, valuable offering that can have global impact. We currently serve schools and organisations in Australia, the United States and Hong Kong, with expansion into new international markets to follow.

How is Makers Empire improving the STEM education landscape in Australia?

One key thing we found by spending countless hours in schools was the significant training and professional learning required by teachers to get maximum value and impact when rolling out 3D design and printing lessons. Our 3D Printing Learning Program is designed to address this. We have developed software, a Teacher’s Dashboard and, in partnership with Datacom Education, professional learning tools that will help both teachers and students improve their STEM learning outcomes. As a result, our offerings allow teachers to effectively implement 3D software lessons in their classroom, giving every student the opportunity to find success with 3D design and printing.

Our offerings allow teachers to effectively implement 3D software lessons in their classroom, giving every student the opportunity to find success with 3D design and printing.

3D printing has been named as one of the key technologies to dominate STEM learning in K-12 schools over the next few years with the NMC Horizon Report 2015 mentioning the “compelling progress” Scots College in Sydney has made with the Makers Empire 3D Printing Learning Program.

How has having a 21CM mentor team been of benefit to Makers Empire?

It has been very beneficial having some really smart people helping out and giving their thoughts. They’ve been able to give me ideas on how to access the market and where gaps in our program may be.

If you weren’t working in the job you have now, what would you be doing instead?

I’d be trying to build something again (probably nagging friends to quit their jobs and join me!)

For more on Makers Empire check out their website and the videos below:

Kirstyn Chan is part of PwC Australia’s Corporate Responsibility team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program. Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c for updates.

What is the role of business in education?

For most people, say “education” and the instant image conjured is “school” – centres of learning that are usually insulated from commercial interests.

With a little investigation, however, it becomes obvious that education and business are, and have always been, intertwined. Universities provide experimentation and research which has immeasurable commercial value (the discovery of DNA, RNA, CRISPR, etc.) as well as graduating the next generation of business professionals.

Likewise, business has long provided funding and research that has made a significant contribution to academia (Lockheed’s Skunk Works, DuPont’s Experimental Station are good examples) as well as feeding back professionals to help shape the learning agenda.

As we look to the future, the more pertinent question becomes: “how can business’ role in education help create a sustainable and equitable future?

At CPA Australia, we are passionate about creating a culture of lifelong learning. Our CPA Program is unique in that we consult extensively with our education partners (which include both business and academia) in order to create technical content that prepares professionals to excel in modern financial roles.

What’s more, we provide our members with the skills necessary to succeed in business strategy and leadership. We teach integrated reporting and contemporary business issues to promote more than just accounting in business, but accountability.

Business has important insights into the challenges of the future and can position itself as a source of solutions. As the biggest accounting membership body in Australia, CPA Australia is committed to being part of those solutions.

Our members are already part of a highly mobile global workforce. The need for individuals to have the skills and capabilities that will allow them to work in a global setting is only going to grow in importance. Our long standing focus on meeting the challenge of preparing a workforce fit for the future aligns with the goals of the 21st Century Minds Accelerator Program.

The additional burden on future generations is that many of the practices of the past will no longer be feasible. Professionals from the STEM disciplines will play an important part in responding to these complex problems. One of our core strategic imperatives is to protect the public interest and secure a pipeline of capable talent for the future. Partnering with the 21st Century Minds Accelerator Program allows us to demonstrate our commitment to Australia’s competition and innovation landscape.

As capable and technically astute businesses create new products, new supply chains and new production methods, CPA Australia and its members will be there to assist in guiding and accounting for these innovations.

With thanks to our contributing author – Paul Drum, Head of Policy, CPA Australia. Follow him on Twitter.

Watch the video below for more insights from our other 21CM collaborators