Cohort Innovation Space is buzzing with excitement as it opens its doors to welcome a dynamic cohort of 12 student teams who have been selected as finalists in the prestigious 2023 Mayor’s Technology and Innovation Awards.

In a continued partnership with Study Gold Coast and Bond University, this year marks the third year the innovation program has been delivered by Cohort Innovation Space.

The initiative extended an open invitation to students ranging from years 8 to 12 across the coast, urging them to submit their ground-breaking technological ideas that supports the City of Gold Coast’s City Vision in one or more themes:

1) The best PLACE to live, visit and stay
2) PROSPERITY built on a strong diverse economy
3) PEOPLE contribute to a strong community spirit


The canvas for innovation was boundless and could span into areas such as conservation, health, tourism, agriculture, energy or something completely different.

Hailing from a number of high schools from across the vibrant Gold Coast, the 12 student finalist teams will now head to Cohort for a day filled with immersive workshops and invaluable mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and innovation facilitators.

Workshops will cover Customer Discovery, Marketing, Product Build and Pitching, and will be hosted by:

Lachlan Creese, Founder of Dehydrated Co:
An entrepreneur from Gold Coast that addressed Australia’s yearly 7.6 million ton food waste issue by founding Dehydrated Co. A collaboration with local farmers to transform imperfect fruits into dehydrated fruits. After selling Dehydrated Co., Lachlan now shares his learnings with the community and looks to pursue his property investment venture, Creese & Co

Maddie Panther, Program Manager at BOP Industries:

Maddie Panther, a resilient cancer survivor, has transformed her experience into a mission to empower GenZ, guiding them to embrace opportunities and authenticity. With a profound passion for mindset and personal development, Maddie’s journey through adversity has led her to inspire and guide young people across the nation by leveraging her three degrees of marketing, education and communications alongside five years of personal growth.

Matias Salinas, Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Little Phil:

Matias drives impactful philanthropic initiatives, aiming to double giving in Australia by 2030. With extensive branding and marketing expertise, he has successfully led campaigns and generated substantial online revenue for renowned brands such as Country Road, Seed, Mimco. Matias also founded his own brand Carrymore during the pandemic, resulting in significant land acquisition in the Daintree Rainforest for First Nations people.

Vishal Mehrotra, Associate Director, Centre for Experiential Learning at Bond University:
Vishal fosters innovative and collaborative experiential learning while prioritising student experience. With a diverse industry background, Vishal has led various strategic and operational projects in consumer, institutional, and digital sectors across global markets, previously holding roles like CEO of Think Tank Games and Lead Consultant at AXS Australia Pty Ltd.

The line-up of facilitators promises to equip the teams with the tools and insights needed to refine their concepts and help kick start their career.

After the finalist bootcamp at Cohort Innovation Space, the 12 finalists will pitch their ideas to an audience and panel of expert judges. Prizes for this year’s awards include $5,000 to the winning school; a $1,000 JB Hi Fi voucher to each of the three winning team members; as well as a tech talk by Cohort Innovation Space for the winning school 🏆