Big Idea scores La Trobe a Big Win

A team of three La Trobe University students has won this year’s social enterprise competition run by The Big Issue.

La Trobe’s ‘Revegetate’ team were part of The Big Idea, a social enterprise competition for university students.

They conceived an idea and business plan that would provide work for the disadvantaged and unemployed in Melbourne through an urban landscaping project – selling living vertical walls to cafés, hotels and restaurants throughout the metropolitan region. 

Aided by La Trobe Business School’s Rylan Gan, a mentor who volunteered his time to the team, students Marni Chaskiel (Business), Georgina Wheeler (Health Science/International Development) and Meera Dawson (Agricultural Science/International Development) went on to take out the top spot in the National Finals on Monday 2 December 2013.

Throughout semester two of 2013, 37 teams, comprising more than 150 students from ten different universities across Australia put their heads together to come up with what they hoped would be the next Big Idea to assist disadvantaged and unemployed people. 

The judging panel for the finals comprised high profile executives including Steven Persson, CEO of the Big Issue, Natasha Stott Despoja, former leader of the Australian Democrats and Andrew Penn, Telstra CFO. 

The three students delivered their fifteen-minute pitch and then fielded a variety of questions from the judges before being named as the winners of the event.

‘The La Trobe University team’s entry stood out for its innovative concept and faultless business plan, which went into great detail to research customer, market and target audience,’ said Sally Hines, The Big Issue Enterprise and Community Engagement National Manager.

Competition to represent the University at the national level was fierce from the start.  A total of thirteen teams, spanning four faculties and containing students from all of our regional campuses, vied for the chance to represent the University. The program was delivered by Jeremy Seward as a cross-faculty, multi-campus program.

Jane Burrows, Project Manager for The Big Idea and for La Trobe Business School’s Business Project subject, said team work is always hard work.

‘I know this group had challenging moments as a team but quite clearly they were able to work through that and make it work for them,’ she said.

‘The excellent thing about this program is the opportunity for students to learn in a completely different way. We wanted to give students the opportunity to learn from people at the front line.’

The three La Trobe students will walk away from the competition with more than just a brand new iPad for their efforts. 

The winning team has been invited to take part in a professional immersion day at The Big Issue head office, learning about the ins and outs of running a social enterprise. 

On top of this amazing experience and the national recognition, all five of the finalists will have their Social Enterprise concepts considered by The Big Issue’s board for real world development.  

Media contact

Suzi Macbeth, Media and Communications: +61 3 9479 5353 |