Neuroscience PhD and post-graduate Medicine student Jennifer Robertson will get the chance to visit French start-ups when she and five other students travel to Paris after winning the 2017 Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Jennifer, who is studying the conjoint MChD/PhD program, says it was a big surprise to win the Challenge, which involved 70 PhD students from across Australia at Adelaide Oval in July 2017.
“It was quite a difficult challenge. I don’t have much experience in business, but we had a fantastic team, and they provided us with excellent workshops to learn the basics” she said.
Jennifer, five other students and their mentor – all of whom hadn’t met before the challenge – had 24 hours to design a viable business that would be beneficial to society.
“We adapted a new haptic holographic technology which means when you’re waving your hand in front of a screen, you get a sensation in your fingers without having to wear a glove,” she said.
“We designed it for improving coordination – it’s a type of brain-training device for people in nursing homes to prevent falls.
“It uses tactile sensations coupled to a visual input to help people learn to move in a better way, so that they become more coordinated and less likely to have a fall,” she said.
The nursing home resident interacts with the program via a large computer screen.
“Basically the nursing home resident would stand in front of the computer screen and they get feedback on whether they were moving in the right kind of way. They interact with the program via lots of games that help them learn the correct way to lift their feet when walking or to pick up a cup of tea.”
Jennifer says the project her team created drew some interest from businesses who were either willing to invest in development or mentor the group in the commercialisation of their product.
“I’m very grateful to ANU for giving me the opportunity and also for the funding to travel to Adelaide,” she said.