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.


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.

21st Century Minds has lift off

PwC’s 21st Century Minds (21CM) Accelerator Program, has hit the ground running and is well into its journey for the year.

On March 1 and 2 our 20 initiatives, industry collaborators and accelerator providers came together in Sydney, giving our community the opportunity to connect for the first time. It was inspiring to hear why our initiatives are passionate about their projects and to see the 21CM community get behind each one, offering advice and support.

To get things started and everyone on the same page, we determined three principles to guide the way we would work together as a community over the year:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Measuring impact
  3. Passion

Our initiatives then had the opportunity to showcase their work during a networking session prior to the Creating Australia’s Future Innovators event with Tony Wagner, Expert-in-Residence at Harvard University. Event attendees had the opportunity to see first hand what each initiative is working on, from the latest robotics equipment to witnessing clever and engaging science experiments.

Over the two days our initiatives were put through highly interactive sessions with industry and education experts, challenging them to think about their purpose and mission. It was a delight to see everyone embrace the spirit of collaboration.

“A great thing we’re getting out of 21st Century Minds is the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded people, and seeing how they’re doing things. We learn by watching what other people do.” Peter Pentland, STELR

All of our initiatives have now been matched to their mentor teams, consisting of dedicated individuals from PwC and our industry and education collaborators. It’s been terrific to see such passionate interest from our collaborators to get involved with the program.

Check out the video below for the highlights of the two day event.

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.