Youth Mission 2016 cohort announced

November 2, 2016
Aaron Birkby

After a rigorous selection process, today we officially announce the 20 participants chosen for the 2016 Youth Mission to Silicon Valley.

The applicant pool

This year was the first time the program expanded nationally, and with an extended age limit from 18 to 29 (up from 25 years of age last year). As a result, we had 201 applications from across the country, of which 50 were interviewed, before we selected the final 20.

Applicants this year had an incredible mix of skill-sets and experience, from software engineering, to mechatronics, computer vision, data science, AI, machine learning, electronics, graphic design, UI, UX, drones, and much more.

Here is the breakdown of the stats from the selection process:

Avg Age23.123.524.5

And for the data scientists amongst us, we exported a spreadsheet with the timestamps of the online applications for you to download here. (enjoy!)

Announcing the 2016 Youth Mission Cohort

The twenty selected participants are made up of 7 females and 13 males, aged from 19 to 29, with an average age of 24.5, spread across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Canberra, and Perth.

The twenty select participants for 2016 are:



“I’m incredibly excited to be part of the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission because of its fundamental purpose: to bring back the tools and networking contacts necessary to kick-start and grow the Australian tech startup community. I applied to the program because I always had a passion for startups and entrepreneurial ventures but lacked insight into their internal processes. I was hungry to learn from the best in the tech industry to better equip myself to face the challenge of crafting my own company or product in the future.” – Kaitlyn Sapier, QLD

The Official Announcement Party

The official announcement of the 20 selected youths took place at Blue Sky Alternative Investments in Brisbane on 2 November 2016.  Here are some of the photos from that event:

The Mission Schedule

Each of the 20 participants now receives a scholarship to attend the Silicon Valley mission. Participants on the mission will visit the offices of global tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Atlassian, and Google, attend networking events with startup founders and student entrepreneurs, visit Stanford University, meet with fellow Australians who are running tech startups in the Valley, and take part in educational events to equip them with an understanding of what it takes to develop and launch a globally successful tech startup.


these are just some of the places we are visiting this year

The participants will blog about their experience here.

Our Mission Partners & Supporters

The mission is funded by our mission partners, including the QUT Business School, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, Technology One, Business Models Inc, the Government of South Australia, the QUT School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the University of Queensland School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Griffith University, Data61, McCullough Robertson, CBR Innovation Network, Uber, and Vision6.



Adrian Di Marco, founder and Executive Chairman of Technology One, said “as Australia’s largest enterprise software company, it’s important to us to engage with Australia’s youngest and brightest minds in STEM. We’ve partnered with Startup Catalyst to actively foster a diverse and vibrant IT industry, and create excitement around this exciting time in Australia’s economy.”

“These kids are the next generation of IT professionals and our future industry leaders. It’s exciting to consider their potential and the creative impact they can have on the future of IT” says Adrian.

Associate Professor Ross Coleman, the University of Sydney’s Director of Graduate Research, said “the University of Sydney is proud to support two of our students, as the first NSW Startup Catalyst participants. They’re exceptional students, and I have no doubt they’ll make the most of this unique opportunity.”

“Supporting the development of entrepreneurial skills in our students is a key priority for the University, and this program offers an invaluable opportunity to learn from startups at the forefront of the technological, economic and cultural shift being experienced around the world. I look forward to seeing how their ideas for entrepreneurial and technological solutions to the problems of the 21st century progress” he said.

Brisbane entrepreneur, investor, Shark Tank star and founder of Startup Catalyst, Steve Baxter, said the program will allow young entrepreneurs to see how startups operate in world-class environments.

“This is something we need to be doing to assist the cultural transformation of our economy to one that is fast paced, startup aware, and global first in its thinking,” he said. “I want to help our entrepreneurs learn the street smarts of building a successful startup from the best the world has to offer – that way, we can accelerate the formation of some Queensland companies with the potential to make a real dent in the universe.”

Startup Catalyst also recently received funding under the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland Global Partnership Awards Program (Outbound Insights), allowing it to expand its operations nationally, and to launch new missions for investors, corporates, and startups to new destinations, including London, Tel Aviv, Singapore and Shenzhen.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch said Startup Catalyst allows entrepreneurs to immerse themselves in an environment where scaling an idea to a global marketplace happens every day. “Participants will experience the pace and pressure of life in these global hotspots and connect with some valuable networking contacts in these overseas centres of excellence.”, Ms Enoch said.