Big ideas in demand as social enterprise comp goes virtual

Published:23 July 2020

CQUniversity's student teams entering The Big Idea social enterprise competition will be virtual in 2020.

Passion for social change is sweeping CQUniversity, as students sign up for The Big Idea social enterprise design challenge despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 40 students have already nominated to participate in the annual competition, coordinated by The Big Issue and supported by CQUni.

It’s the sixth year CQUni has taken part in the challenge, with our enthusiastic student teams winning the national contest in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

This year’s participants this week had their first virtual meeting, and will form online teams to meet social distancing requirements.

Applying from across the CQUni footprint, the diverse group represents both domestic and international students, and are in a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Office of Social Innovation program manager Ashley Clarke is supporting participants to form teams and social enterprise ideas, and connecting them with relevant mentors across CQUniversity.

Ms Clarke said students were keen to make a difference, and grow their experience.

“We know that employers are looking for graduates with more than just a degree – they want problem-solving skills, presentation skills, and collaboration skills,” Ms Clarke explained.

“And the further you go in The Big Idea, the more experience you get! So the Office of Social Innovation is determined to support students to develop their ideas and passion for change, into something really great.”

The Big Idea follows a big six months for social innovation at CQUni, as the OSI and its student Change Champs have led initiatives to connect students and communities during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The OSI was also central to establishing food banks for hard-hit international students at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane campuses, in partnership with social enterprises FareShare and SecondBite.

Once formed, CQUniversity’s teams for The Big Idea must then propose an initial social enterprise concept by 7 August, before developing design and business model, then progress through internal and external rounds with expert judging panels.

Semi-finalist judging will be held via webinar across 10-11 November, with finalist judging planned for Melbourne on 24 November, followed by an awards event to announce the winning teams.

For more information, students can visit or email