Alumni Update

Pank Prize criteria will be extended to include social enterprises

Applications open Monday 29 February

Sharon Zivkovic, Jane Newland and Emily Humphreys

The increasing importance of social enterprises in the start-up space has inspired a broadening of the eligibility criteria for the longstanding Pank Prize to encompass business ideas from social entrepreneurs. The prize has been renamed the Pank/ University of South Australia Prize for Social Innovation and Enterprise. Last year’s recipients of the Pank Prize, Sharon Zivkovic and Emily Humphreys, have recently taken her software to the world - presenting at the AESOP conference in Germany.

Sharon Zivkovic is a PhD graduate, owner of Community Capacity Builders and Co-founder of Wicked Lab. Sharon’s first-hand experience of social disadvantage, coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit, have underpinned her career and finding ways to equip communities for change.

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. Social entrepreneurship is on the rise, partly fuelled by the rise of Generation Y (millennials) who are socially-conscious and looking for new approaches to business and social development.

Sharon (pictured left) and her business partner, Emily Humphreys (pictured with Jane Newland centre), are developing computer software to address complex social problems in the community known as ‘wicked problems’.

“The software is targeted at addressing problems such as place-based disadvantage, obesity, climate change and ageing populations. To address wicked problems, practitioners need to build the adaptive capacity of communities, enable communities to take coherent action, and assist governments to create the enabling conditions required for this type of approach. Our software assists practitioners with these roles,” says Sharon.

Sharon has just returned from a trip to Germany where she presented her software at the 14th Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) Thematic Group on Planning and Complexity conference.

“The next phase of Wicked Lab’s development is to successfully pilot our software in Australia with a place-based collaboration that addresses a complex social policy problem. Also we will develop a research proposal with members of the AESOP Thematic Group on Planning and Complexity for an international research project that will utilise our software,” says Sharon.

Sharon says budding social entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with the right people and partners.

“You need to find a co-founder who complements your own strengths and makes up for your deficiencies. Look for partners who understand the social problem that you are addressing and who are able to support the effective implementation of your product or program.”

Since 1996 the Pank family’s generous contributions to the University of South Australia have helped more than 160 students gain a tertiary education, including winners of the  Pank Prize for Entrepreneurship which was established by the late David Pank in 2003.

David Pank’s daughter, Jane Newland, says the family enjoys helping students reach their potential and a scholarship is a great motivator.

“For a student winning a scholarship demonstrates that someone believes in them and they try harder,” she says.

“The family sees a need to support start-up business which focus on a social outcome,” says Jane Newland.

The Pank/ University of South Australia Prize for Social Innovation and Enterprise assists UniSA graduates to set up a new and innovative business in South Australia, with $10,000 in start-up support and a further $10,000 worth of industry mentorship. Applications for the 2016 Pank Prize open on Monday 29 February. More information

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