In 2023, the fifth Open Innovation Competition theme was ‘an inclusive city for international students and alumni’. Participants were encouraged to provide their own creative, innovative and technology-enabled solutions to this challenge.

Melbourne is home to more than 100,000 international students from more than 120 countries. They are a major part of what makes our city great.

Many choose to stay on in Melbourne after their studies, contributing to our city’s rich, multicultural population. More than half of City of Melbourne’s residents were born overseas.

International students and alumni bring diverse experiences, cultural insights and a wealth of global connections and soft diplomacy benefits which can support our future economy.

Problem statement

This year's competition asked the question:
How might we make Melbourne a more inclusive city for international students and alumni so they can thrive, contribute to and share in our economic prosperity?


Competition overview

This year’s Open Innovation Competition is motivated by The City of Melbourne’s Inclusive Melbourne Strategy 2022-32.

Melbourne prides itself on being a dynamic city constantly seeking innovative ways to anticipate and meet the changing needs of the community, the economy and the environment.

The diversity of our municipality is one of our greatest assets. We want Melbourne to be a place where everyone can prosper, where every voice is as important as the next and where diversity is celebrated for the vibrancy and richness that benefits us all.

Following the disruptions of the pandemic, we have the opportunity to reactivate our city in a way that ensures no community is left behind and that we are creating prosperity that can be shared more equitably.

The thousands of international students and alumni who live, work and study in Melbourne are an important part of our community, but often experience persistent barriers to equal participation. We want to explore opportunities to deepen and enhance the impact international students and alumni have on our city

With this context in mind, we invite innovators, entrepreneurs, students and community members to submit their bright ideas to solve this year’s challenge.

We are looking for submissions that:

  • Simultaneously address the challenge statement and a problem or opportunity in Melbourne.
  • Address at least one of the four opportunity areas.
  • Are new and exciting and may not have been trialled before in Melbourne, Australia or the world.
  • Are proactive solutions that are data-driven, utilise tech and have the ability to deliver results.

Opportunity areas

Participants were encouraged to incorporate data and emerging technology into their ideas to address one or more of the opportunity areas:

Supporting entrepreneurship

How do we support the entrepreneurial efforts of international students and alumni?

Meaningful employment pathways

How do we ensure international students and alumni have access to meaningful employment opportunities?

Economic and social inclusion

How do we promote a sense of belonging for students and alumni in Melbourne and ensure they are valued for their contribution to the city?

Fostering global connectivity

How do we foster ongoing connections with Melbourne alumni to uncover and encourage opportunities for greater international connectivity?

Guidelines and resources

Competition Launch
Launch event
20 March 2023

Participant Support Sessions
Available through online Q&A and 1:1 sessions with a range of mentors and experts.
21 March to 28 April 2023

One-Day Innovation Sprint with HEX
An (optional) in-person support session designed to give participants the tools to transform their ideas into prototypes ready for submission.
5 April 2023

In-person Mentoring Session
A drop-in mentoring session where participants can ask questions and seek feedback from a range of mentors.
13 April 2023

Online Pitch Training Workshop with 25eight
This workshop will give you the tools you need to develop a winning pitch. It will be interactive and structured so you can work on your pitch during the session.
18 April 2023

Competition closes
5pm on 30 April 2023

Finalists notified
Early June 2023

Competition Pitch Event
Finalist pitch showcase
Mid-late June 2023

Melbourne-specific Resources & Data sets

City of Melbourne - Community Profile Data

City of Melbourne Open Data – Tertiary Students profile

City of Melbourne – City Forecasts

City of Melbourne Open Data Portal

Inclusive Melbourne Strategy 2022-2032

City of Melbourne Neighbourhood Portals

City of Melbourne Census of Land Use and Employment


Victorian-specific Resources & Data sets

Victoria's International Education Recovery Plan 2025

Study Melbourne - Victoria’s Commitment to Action

Study Melbourne – Student Stories

LaunchVic Startup Ecosystem Map


Australian-specific Resources & Data sets

Department of Education - International Education Data and Research

Department of Education: International Students by Country, by State and Territory

QILT Graduate Outcomes Survey - Longitudinal

QILT Employer Satisfaction Survey

QILT Student Experience Survey

Deakin University Infographic - Impacts of post-study work rights policy in Australia

Deakin University Report – Temporary Graduatification: Impacts of post-study work rights on Australia

The Conversation - Australia’s temporary graduate visa attracts international students, but many find it hard to get work in their field

DFAT - Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy

Scanlan Foundation Report – How migrant small businesses contribute to Australian neighbourhoods

QS Best Student Cities Rankings

Australian Bureau of Statistics – Counts of Australian Businesses

Australian Bureau of Statistics - Insights from the Australian Census and Temporary Entrants

Deakin University Infographic – Australian Student Mobility to the Indo-Pacific Region through the New Colombo Plan (674 KB)

Deakin University National Report – Australian Student Mobility to the Indo-Pacific Region through the New Colombo Plan (1.16 MB)

CUG – Migrant Small Business Report (14.9 MB)

IEAA – International Students, A Guide for Australian Employers

Access to Mentors and Experts

We would like to help you help us. Since this competition requires a good understanding of the stakeholders' concerns and experiences, we have arranged access to 1:1 sessions with a range of mentors and experts for anyone considering entering the competition.

These sessions are designed to assist your understanding of the issues, ask questions and test your idea before completing your submission.

  • Check out the available mentors and experts, then book a time for a 1:1 session with them via their Calendly link.
  • You can also submit a question via the public Q&A tool on this platform.

One-Day Open Innovation Sprint with HEX

Date and time: Wednesday 5 April 2023, 10am to 4pm

Location: Y Suites, 183 A'Beckett Street Melbourne

Transform your idea into a prototype ready for submission to the City of Melbourne’s Open Innovation Competition.

This support session is designed to give you the tools and insights to help transform your idea into a viable solution. It will cover:

  • Ideation and design-thinking
  • Problem definition and solution hypothesis
  • Roast session – rapid feedback and iteration
  • Market research – how to take your risky assumptions and go test them.

Register to attend.


In-person Mentoring Session

Thursday 13 April 2023, 4pm to 6pm

Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

A drop-in mentoring session where participants can ask questions and seek feedback from a range of mentors.

Register to attend.


Online Pitch Training Workshop with 25eight

Tuesday 18 April 2023, 4pm to 6pm

Pitch Perfect: Master the art of successful pitching

We are offering a free pitch training workshop to all participants via our partners at 25eight. The Pitch Perfect workshop will give you the tools you need to develop a winning pitch. You will learn how to develop your unique value proposition and align it to the challenge and create a pitch deck using their ‘Six Pillars Framework’. This workshop will be interactive and structured so you can work on your pitch during the session.

Register to attend.

Note that additional, in-depth one-on-one pitch training will be offered to the finalists chosen to pitch at the final showcase event. The date and format of the pitch training will be confirmed and communicated as finalists are announced.

The judging panel includes representatives from the City of Melbourne and the competition’s partner organisations. The panel will evaluate submissions based on the following five criteria:

  1. Innovation: the extent to which the submission is unique to, or adds value to, existing solutions.
  2. Impact: the extent to which the submission demonstrates the potential to effect change.
  3. Scalability: the extent to which the submission can scale, including the appeal it has to secure buy-in and/or a wide consumer base.
  4. Technically and conceptually sound: the extent to which the submission addresses the brief. Namely, the concerns and needs of our community (city workers, visitors and residents) and/or how it is supported by data or other evidence.
  5. Feasibility: the ease with which the submission can translate into a sustainable and cost effective operating model.

Prizes will be awarded to the Open Innovation Competition winner/s and other top submissions. The prizes include:

Cash prizes
A cash pool of no less than $30,000 to be divided among the top submissions.

MAP Velocity program
Two of the top submissions will receive admission into MAP's 2023 Velocity program, an early stage startup incubator run by the Melbourne Accelerator Program. The 12-week program comprises 10 workshops centred around customer discovery and market validation with specialised experiences for both for-profit and for-purpose entrepreneurs.

RMIT LaunchHUB Bootcamp program
Two of the top submissions* will receive fast track tickets into RMIT Activator’s LaunchHUB Pre-Accelerator competitive selection process to be considered into the 12-week program and an opportunity to access the Capital Fund.

* Must have an affiliation to RMIT (current or former students or staff).

StartSpace prize
One of the top submissions will receive complimentary StartSpace Loft membership for up to 2 team members for 2 months. StartSpace is a business support service and community for new and early stage founders located within the State Library Victoria.

Startup Victoria Membership
One of the winners (up to 4 team members) will receive networker membership to Startup Victoria so they can connect with others who love startups. Membership provides access to the Startup Victoria member portal, discounted tickets to events, partner offers, startup resource library and Startup Victoria’s jobs board.

Catalysr fellowship
A number of eligible top submissions will receive admission to the 2023 - Intake 2 of Catalysr’s Migrapreneur Fellowship program, which supports migrants to gain the foundational knowledge needed to either work in or start a startup. The 10-week program includes masterclasses on startup essentials, weekly sprints to validate your startup, as well as connections with a network of Alumni, Mentors and industry professionals. Upon completion you’ll join the Catalysr community for life and can continue to participate in events, workshops and access mentor support.”

We're delighted to be working with a number of partners to deliver the Open Innovation Competition 2023. Find out who the partners are.

Submissions closed

Open Innovation Competition