The Big Ideas Youth Challenge

The Townsville City Council Big Ideas Youth Challenge is a yearly event, purposefully designed in collaboration with educators to engage young people in a fun and fast paced day of listening, learning and doing.

This event provides our young people with the opportunity to hear from some of Australia’s most exciting and inspiring innovators and changemakers, as well as explicitly developing their entrepreneurial thinking and human centered design skills.

This year, the Big Ideas Youth Challenge was centered around the theme of sustainability and circular economy.

If you’re a school or a student eager to take part in Challenge 2024, we invite you to indicate your interest here: EOI Youth Ideas Big Challenge 2024.

Watch the video summary of the Townsville City Council Big Ideas Youth Challenge 2023, celebrated at James Cook University on Friday 4th August.

The Big Ideas Portal

This year, thanks to funding from the Queensland Government, Smart Precinct NQ has a New $10,000 Activation Grant to activate and develop innovative ideas.

Students who have participated in the Big Ideas Youth Sustainability Challenge are eligible to submit their youth-led innovation project for consideration.

This grant aims to support the development of new innovative ideas, technologies, and prototypes that embody or have the potential to embody the values of circular economy. One lucky team will be selected to activate their youth-led innovation project with the support from organisations such as Smart Precinct NQ, James Cook University, Townsville City Council, Industry representatives and subject matter experts.

All participating school teams are invited to participate in this initiative, applying to be one of the winning teams to receive up to $10,000 project fund to activate their project idea!

Your involvement in this program can be a game-changer, and your innovative ideas and passion for sustainability can have a lasting impact on shaping a better future for our environment and society.

Together, let’s embrace the circular economy vision and create a positive change for our community and the world at large.

Get ready to make a difference! 


Selection criteria

The proposed project will be selected based on the principals of circular economy and the following criteria:

  • INNOVATION- Develop new research, product, service or process that is innovative and applies best practice circular economy principles.
  • MARKET NEED- demonstrate there is significant market demand or solves a significant challenge and is scalable.
  • COLLABORATION- Show how the project will activate collaboration between industry and research institutions, and other relevant stakeholders.
  • REGIONAL RELEVANCE- Support the development of economic, environmental, and social benefits for regional Queenslanders and communities, but can be scaled.

What can be funded?

Funding can be used to cover costs directly related to the project including:

  • New research or proof of concept activities.
  • Pre-commercialisation and commercialisation of research outcomes.
  • Information sharing and communications related to the research.


Costs not eligible for funding

  • Flights, Accommodation and other travel expenses.
  • FDA/TGA or other regulatory approval costs.
  • Capital works and/or physical infrastructure including any buildings, telecommunications and IT networks.
  • Costs associated with employee allowances, bonuses and fringe benefits.
  • Conference fees.
  • Entertainment costs.
  • Ongoing compliance fees and licences.
  • Inventory and warehousing costs.
  • Costs associated with securing and/or managing the grant funding (e.g. grant writers and bookkeeping costs)
  • General business operating costs including but not limited to rent, rates, electricity, water, internet, insurance, software and accounting fees.

 Next Steps & Key dates

  • You have until Monday 14th August to refine your idea before submitting.
  • Applications close 5.00PM Monday 14th August 2023
  • Judging period will commence on the 15th August and finish on the 17th of August 2023.
  • Winners will be announced on Friday 18th of August 2023.
  • Winners will be acknowledged at the Townsville STEM Fair on the 19th of August 2023 and the winning team is encouraged to attend.
  • Project commences the week of 21st of August 2023.
  • The project must be completed within 12 months.
  • You need to nominate a School officer, Industry or Research Representative that will oversee and support your project over the period.

The successful team will work with experts from Smart Precinct NQ, James Cook University, the Department of Environment and Science, Townsville City Council Sustainability Team and subject matter experts.

PLEASE REMEMBER, your idea does not need to be perfect, it just needs to be an innovative idea that solves a problem that your team is passionate about.


Disclaimer: Smart Precinct NQ reserves the right to modify, amend, or alter the terms and conditions of this grant at any time without prior notice. Any changes made shall be effective immediately upon posting on our official website or notifying the concerned parties.

Applications closed. We will announce the winner at the Townsville STEM Fair on 19 August, 2023.