Preparing students to thrive in their future careers is a key mission of all universities. At the University of New South Wales, however, the long-running ‘learning through doing’ event – the Peter Farrell Cup (PFC) – is taking that mission to the next level.
The PFC is a competitive idea, four-month innovative teaching program and covers phases from developing a new idea and pitching business ideas to a panel of judges to launching real businesses.
In 2023, a cohort of 176 budding entrepreneurs across 62 teams through a 4-month journey of hands-on experiential learning, including access to an extensive mentor network and cutting-edge makerspace facilities.
From the 62 teams drawn from across the university, the spotlight ultimately fell on ten finalists, who showcased their groundbreaking ideas to an audience of 382 supporters during the eagerly anticipated finals night.
The PFC awarded cash prizes totaling $30,000 for standout ideas, such as an AI-driven storytelling app for child mental health and AI-powered robotic pets for older people. The diversity in ideas highlighted the program's success in fostering innovation and positive societal impact.
Finalist - UNSW Founders Team
"What’s On! began as a “joke-like concept” that we thought would never work on campuses. The Peter Farrell Cup (PFC) 2023 changed that. Through innovative workshops, we realised our potential to create, scale, and launch What’s On! and to extend beyond just clubs and societies at UNSW.
The program didn’t just offer theory; it allowed me to apply concepts to my idea, evolving What’s On from “just another student events app” to a comprehensive student engagement and analytical tool. Courses allow me to apply that Business Model Canvas to the age-old Uber case study that every other university in the world does. But Founders gave me an opportunity to make a Business Model Canvas (and heaps of other tools) for What’s On! and get feedback on it – a true application.
A critical aspect of our development was access to a vast network of like-minded people, builders, innovators, and mentors. We booked a collective 48 hours of consultations provided by PFC. We received invaluable advice on every stage – from product development to pitch delivery. This support helped us navigate numerous challenges with no problem remaining unsolved.
As a commerce student, I have had soft and hard skill-building workshops, but PFC provided me a skill no other course could teach me – building the right team. Finding potential team members is stressful and nearly impossible. PFC helped me not only build but also master that skill. The mentor sessions also helped me realise that failing is ok, and that getting back up is the “bare minimum“ in a founder’s journey.
Recognition of self-potential and alignment with my passion for academia was something PFC led to. “Love what you study and study what you love” is my personal aim as an academic, and PFC made it possible to link What’s On! with transforming education."
"Peter Farrell Cup (PFC) 2023 distinctly stands out from traditional educational experiences due to its immersive problem-solving workshops that actively fostered unconventional thinking. It enhanced our understanding of product development, marketing strategies, and the importance of social impact, which is essential for navigating the multifaceted entrepreneurial landscape.
PFC didn’t confine us to textbooks and lectures. Instead, it encouraged us to dive into interactive group brainstorming sessions, pushing us to explore innovative concepts. The program challenged us to learn and immediately put our learning into practice, making it a uniquely hands-on and forward-thinking educational journey.
Stepping into the realm of pitching and presenting was always daunting for me, especially when it involved sharing something I deeply believed in and had nurtured from its inception. PFC, however, became the catalyst that propelled me far beyond my comfort zone. It became a platform where I built my confidence and acquired the skills and invaluable advice necessary to present SPLAT to an audience of over 300 guests confidently.
PFC instilled in us an unwavering determination to push beyond our limits. Engaging with mentors, industry leaders and fellow participants who shared their triumphs and failures inspired us to take on new challenges. A crucial cooperation was with an industry mentor who shared advice on the scalability of our concept. This helped us bridge the knowledge gap, educating us on creating globally suitable toys that catered to children with disabilities and were accessible to all. This experience has prepared us to make a significant difference in the world by using innovation for societal benefit.
We aspire to scale SPLAT nationally. The PFC program has provided the groundwork by nurturing our entrepreneurial mindset, fostering critical connections, and arming us with the skills and confidence to take on the challenges of creating a lasting impact on children's lives."
"The Peter Farrell Cup (PFC) 2023 was a highly rewarding experience that inspired innovative thinking, leading to a great product. This was best evidenced in the pitching workshop, where we could experiment with new and out-of-the-box pitching techniques that captivated our audience. This enabled me and my co-founder to continuously improve the pitch to a high standard.
Our motivation and preparation for real-world challenges can be best shown through how the PFC pushed us forward. As we said on multiple occasions, the PFC motivated us to keep moving, gave us actionable goals and steps, and put us months further forward than we would otherwise be. PFC has facilitated numerous separate engagements with industry professionals. This includes our mentors, startup professionals, educators, business professionals and even lawyers to discuss IP and trademark rights with BaxterIP. We felt most inspired when discussing with other entrepreneurs and seeing their success and personal experiences.
PFC has vastly expanded my knowledge areas in the business scope, testing, pitching and significantly more: the learning experience throughout the PFC has been more of a learning journey than anything I have previously done.
PFC 2023 has significantly impacted my career as it has provided the scope and ability for myself and my team to build an incredible startup. This will (even independent of any future success) fundamentally alter my professional career and my experiences; it has taught me what I enjoy doing and how I enjoy doing it. I cannot stress enough the overall impact of the PFC and how it has changed not only my professional career but also my world."