About the Challenge

The flagship education program of illuminate Education & Consulting is the nextgen Challenge, where we put students into teams to develop a business that solves a problem in our community in five days. To prove the effectiveness of the business, students have to produce a business plan with two years of financial forecasting, deliver a sales pitch, create elements of a marketing strategy including radio and newspaper advertisements, all while undertaking a number of smaller challenges along the way too. The skills are not just ones useful for running a business, as students learn about stress and team management, independent learning, budgeting, planning, creative thinking and speaking in public which will impact them for the rest of their schooling and working lives.


This challenge is structured around giving students an experience of what it is like to work cooperatively in a team environment where stress is one of the major hurdles, while learning in a way that is more like the university lifestyle rather than a classroom environment. This focus carries through all elements of the challenge, which is focused on developing students to be prepared to take their next steps with confidence. Throughout the process, some of the learning includes;

  • Idea Generation, especially how to evaluate ideas for a financial return,
  • Market Research, to ensure there is a market for their prospective idea,
  • Budgeting and Financial Management, as participants have to ensure their business is financially sustainable through using profit and loss statements,
  • Public Speaking, through multiple pitch opportunities throughout the challenge,
  • Business Strategy and Logistics, recognising the planning that goes into running a business,
  • Brand, both in understanding how to build a business brand as well as their own personal brand,
  • Marketing Strategies, through developing collateral to market their business idea,
  • Problem Solving, as participants have to develop a business idea in response to a set challenge,
  • Innovation, from using creative approaches to solve existing problems in new ways,
  • Teamwork, as the challenge is undertaken in small teams,
  • Pressure and Stress, as the tight deadlines keep teams to task,
  • Meeting Deadlines, as submissions are not assessed if students are even one minute late,
  • ICT Skills, as communication occurs through Twitter as well as using software to complete tasks,
  • Self Confidence and Motivation, as the challenge is structured for students to lead their own learning,
  • Leadership, as each team is led by a ‘CEO’ who sets the agenda for the teams,
  • Learning From Professionals, who deliver presentations and give feedback to the participants to inspire them,
  • Knowledge Construction, as participants listen to presentations and have to decide how to use the information,
  • And much much more.



The illuminate:nextgen Challenge is not only focused on developing business skills, but is based in a majority of major subject areas to develop and most importantly demonstrate how important all subjects areas in working life. To prove this, we have mapped the challenge to the Australian Curriculum (v8.1) at the Year 9 and Year 10 students.


East Gippsland
April 24 to 28, 2017

Melbourne’s East
May 15 to 19, 2017

May 22 to 26, 2017

Melbourne Central
Deakin’s Burwood Campus
May 29 to June 2, 2017

Deakin’s Waterfront Campus
October 23 to 27, 2017

Melbourne’s West
Cairnlea & Williamstown
TBA, 2017

Click here to register now.

Format of the Challenge


Each day of the illuminate:nextgen Challenge will run from 9:30 am until 2:30 pm, with activities scheduled to support student learning as well as giving students enough time to complete the tasks allocated. As the challenge is in the final planning stages, below is the order of the sessions and the days they will be on, but the confirmed times of these sessions will be confirmed closer to the challenge.


Day Sessions Submissions
Monday Opening Presentation (at 9:30 am)
Introduction to Core Challenge Industry
Idea Generation Strategies
Overview of the Week
Introduction to Brand
Introduction to Marketing
Samples of their Business Model Canvas (a business planning tool)
Tuesday Briefing Session (at 9:30 am)
Introduction to Economics
Creative Feedback Session
Introduction to Financial Accounting
Public Speaking Tips
Samples of their Business Model Canvas
30-second elevator pitch
Description of Idea Report
Wednesday Business Plans Presentation (via YouTube)
Graphic Presentation Tips (via Youtube)
Samples of their Business Model Canvas (a business planning tool)
Market Research Report
Draft Business Plan and Financial Tables
Thursday N/A as the day is dedicated to the completion of submissions.


Completed Business Plan.
Completed Financial Forecasts.
Marketing Package (Radio Advertisements, Social Media Ads and Printed Material)
Friday Briefing Session (at 9:30 am)
Pitch Deck Presentations
Timed 45min Challenge
Trade Display Set Up and Judging
Review Session (finished at 2:30 pm)
Public Viewing of Trade Display (6 pm)
Award Presentation Ceremony (6:30 pm)
Powerpoint for Pitch Deck Presentation
Pitch Deck Presentation
Three submissions as per the Timed Challenge
Trade Display

Previous Challenges

We like to keep the challenge for the week a surprise, to inspire creative and innovative solutions to the realistic problem posed. But to give you an understanding of the type of problems that the nextgen challenge will tackle, here are some of the previous challenges we have run for students across Australia.

University of Newcastle illuminate:nextgen Challenge | November 2016

Health is so much more than not being sick. It includes elements such as fitness, mental health, illness, physical activity, chronic medical conditions, health services, facilities and people employed in fields related to health. The Central Coast is a beautiful region that is home to people from a vast variety of backgrounds, and one that is seeking to better its personal wellbeing. Your challenge is to design an enterprise that operates locally and addresses health, well-being or physical exercise.

Deakin University illuminate:nextgen Challenge | July 2016

Australia is often called the lucky country, and the statistics prove that this is the case. Many of us have homes, cars, running water and access to education. The United Nations ranks Australia as the second best country for quality of life (behind Norway). Juxtaposed to this is two-thirds of the world’s poor living in our region (Asia Pacific), and even in our country we have issues such as one in two hundred Australians are homeless on any given night. Your challenge is to design a social enterprise that operates locally but supports a disadvantaged community (either locally, nationally or internationally).

UTAS & AMC nextgen Challenge | June 2016

Sadly across Tasmania as more people are shopping online or travelling to larger centres, there are a growing number of vacant shopfronts in our town and city centres. These mark where vital and valued community goods and services were previously purchased, in their vacant state they are unable to add to the shopping district. To juxtapose this trend, more consumers are looking past just making simple transactions to be part of an experience that creates value. Empty shops in our centres create an opportunity awaiting an innovative solution. Your challenge is to develop a pop up business idea that will utilise vacant space in your town or city centre, to create something of interest to consumers and the wider community.

AMC & UTAS nextgen Business Team Challenge | June 2015

Tasmania is one of the most beautiful corners of the world, with world renowned rainforests protected in World Heritage Areas, a history that is still visible today, and a growing creative culture that is drawing new audiences to our island state. The challenge is that so many people, especially those overseas, realise that Tasmania is a destination they should visit, with only 13% of visitors to the state coming from overseas. Your challenge for the nextgen Business Team Challenge is to design a tourism experience that will take visitors to experience something special in Tasmania.

AMC & UTAS nextgen Business Team Challenge | June & November 2014

In recent years, there has been countless discussions, forums and papers on the state of the Tasmanian economy and what is holding it back. With creative thinking and a look to how Tasmanian products could be sold to the world, international money could enter the Tasmanian economy to accelerate a recovery. Your challenge for the nextgen Business Team Challenge is to come up with a business model that sells Tasmanian products overseas produced locally.

And the 2017 illuminate:nextgen Challenge is just as engaging and relevant as these challenges – but you’ll have to sign up to hear that challenge as it is launched!

What Others Say About The Challenge


“They excelled throughout the entire challenge process using real life skills around interrogating information to solve a problem creatively, research, digital literacy, presentation, market research and collaboration. The students grew so much throughout the experience and they readily articulated that learning. A wonderful opportunity to try the real world in a great learning environment. Cannot recommend the challenge highly enough!

Shayne Player, Principal, TLSC Tumbi Umbi Campus

“The students are given an amazing opportunity to experience the world of work in a truly invigorating and educational environment. All aspects of the week-long challenge are well planned and relevant to the challenge. All students should experience something like this in their journey through high school.

Amanda Claridge, Assistant Principal, Riverside High School

What a week! The students were engaged, the presenters were authentic, and the simulations were as close to a real business experience as one could ever hope for. A business team challenge like this encompasses many areas of any curriculum – literacy and communication, numeracy, ICT, public speaking and presentation, current affairs, values and ethics.”

Mark Smithies, Business Studies and ICT Teacher, Devonport High School

“They were provided with a level of challenge greater than they would normally experience and were placed in a working environment that allowed them to explore their ideas and skills in a mature workspace. The ownership that the students demonstrated of their idea from brainstorming to the final product was key and their sense of achievement at the end of the week was enormous. Students were empowered by the experience and felt great pride in their success.”

Benjamin Joyce, Teacher, Erina High School

“The students completed a massive amount of work, but more than that demonstrated true character in their exhibition of teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, inquiry and organisation. It was truly humbling to see them step up and thrive during this challenge.

Ryan Barron, Head Teacher – Teaching & Learning Coach, TLSC Tumbi Umbi Campus

The Partners Behind nextgen


The illuminate:nextgen Challenge aims to create strong relationships between the business and education community. Each challenge is uniquely designed and facilitated by illuminate Education, and we partner with motivated and inspiring organisations around Australia to enrich the education, enterprise relationship. We are excited to be partnering with Australia Post, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Deakin University to help make the challenge happen and ensure that the costs are as low as possible for schools to enter students.

Australia Post | Regional Pitchfest

Australia Post Regional Pitchfest is your opportunity to pitch your business or idea to a live audience and expert panel for the chance to win cash. We are looking for regional Australia’s innovators and entrepreneurs and are excited to be not only providing them a platform to launch from, but also a spotlight on the great opportunities in regional areas across the country.

Applicants will be given the opportunity to undertake expert pitch and investment training. The top five applicants from each state and territory will take the stage between June and July 2017. Flights and accommodation are included for each finalist.

To find out more about the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest events, click here.

Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand

Our vision is to empower our members to become leaders and shapers of finance and business in Australia New Zealand and wherever they may work around the world.

Click here for more information.

Deakin Business School

Deakin Business School prepares graduates for careers of the future. We harness emerging technologies to facilitate innovative, borderless and personalised education. Our research informs our practice and impacts the communities with which we engage.

Click here for more information.

Sign Up Today

We’ve got plenty of great programs all over the state – simply open up the registration window below for your nearest program and follow the prompts to make sure your students can benefit from this experience!

Please contact Pam Walters at Gippsland East Local Learning and Employment Network directly to sign up for this program, which will be in Sale during this week.

This challenge is being presented in alignment with Australia Post’s Regional Pitchfest.

To register your interest for this program or to find our more, please contact Jessi directly by email (jessi@illuminate.education).