The Big Idea – Australia’s leading social enterprise immersion and competition for university students

The Big Idea is coordinated by The Big Issue, Australia’s longest standing and most significant social enterprise. The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that delivers solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives.

What is The Big Idea?

The Big Idea will leverage The Big Issue’s expertise and networks to immerse university students in the world of social enterprise.  Students are encouraged to develop their own social enterprise idea, which will be put to our panel of expert judges.  Both undergraduate and postgraduate students can get involved.

Participating students will learn with us during the second half of the year, gaining unprecedented access to social entrepreneurs, Australian ‘Thought Leaders’ and experts across various sectors.  This guidance, advice and direction will ensure students are well placed to understand social issues and develop their ideas into viable business plans.

Meet the people involved.



Congratulations to the 2017 winning teams!

In 2017, students from 13 universities participated in The Big Idea, submitting more than 100 business plans for consideration.

For the first time in The Big Idea’s history, there were two undergraduate winners – the Bawurra Foundation and A Tech You.

The Bawurra Foundation from Macquarie University is a social business that helps to preserve Indigenous culture and boost Indigenous literacy rates. Higher-SES schools are charged a subscription fee to access cultural resources, which is used to support lower-SES schools and schools with high Indigenous enrolment.  Speaking at the awards ceremony at PwC Melbourne on Tuesday evening, team representative Jesse Slok said, “Winning The Big Idea provides validation of our idea, that we’re on the path to success. The next step is expanding, scaling up – we’re looking to partner with 30 schools next year, so it will be an exciting 12 months for us.”

A Tech You, from CQ University, uses 3D printing to create custom wheelchair tables. The business provides 3D printing training and potential employment to people with disability.  Chelsea Xu said, “I enjoyed the journey and I learned so much, combining nursing and business. I hoping to work with industrial partners on the production to make a product that is marketable and benefits people with disability.”

Homegirls, from Monash University, is the postgraduate winner. The social enterprise employs refugee women to make high-end accessories that appeal to the Australian fashion market.

Stephanie Huang said, “The Big Idea process has really pushed me to do so much work for Homegirls, to get it to where it is now. We are doing our first project in December and hoping to launch in January next year.”

Universities – Register Now!

Universities are invited to register their interest for The Big Idea. Places are limited, so please contact The Big Issue to discuss a partnership and secure your university’s place.
University staff interested in learning more about The Big Idea are invited to join our Observer Program to experience the immersion and competition first-hand. You will get the chance to meet our social enterprise experts, hear from guest speakers and get an insight into the delivery style and format of the competition. To join our Observer Program, please send your contact details to You can also visit the About page to find out more on this groundbreaking initiative and how your students can get involved.

For Media enquiries, please contact us on (03) 9663 4533, or complete the form on our Contact page.