Tech which caters for people with mobility challenges, delivers clean water to third world countries and lowers incidences of road trauma among young drivers are just a few ideas put forward by students vying for a place in the Moriah Scholars in Entrepreneurship program.
The program launched last year, the result of a generous donation from Kelly + Partners and the Moriah College Foundation, and awards a select group of students with an all expenses paid trip to Israel to visit leading Israeli startups and entrepreneurs.
Head of high school Jan Hart, says the program has ambitious goals for ambitious students. “So the objective is to really encourage a different way of thinking in our children,” she begins.
“The bottom line is, Israel is known as the startup nation, and many of our kids don’t think that they can make the change in the world that’s going to be needed.
“We want them to think globally, we really want them to have a social conscience and to believe in themselves that they can actually make a difference in people’s lives.”
To be selected in the entrepreneur program, students undertake a gruelling application process.
“They had to come up with a concept, an innovative idea, and then come up with a developed pitch and market it,” Hart explains.
“And they had to present their video pitch and presentation to a panel of leading Sydney business figures and chair of the Moriah Foundation.
“It was a very intimidating process for them, but they really shone, really stepped up,” she says.
For those forward-thinking students who are selected, they can look forward to a week-long trip towards the end of Term 3.
Rabbi Benji Levy, college dean, took the inagural group of students to Israel last year. He says the experience was second to none.
“I think from an education perspective there’s often a disconnect between the classroom and the real-world, and we can teach them the theory and discuss it, but their teachers were successful businessmen on the front lines of changing the world ... I think that is an education that we’re really trying to give,” Levy says.
Last year students visited startups, think tanks and big players in the technology sector, such as Mobileye, which Levy says was recently bought out by Intel for a record sum of $US15 million.
The scholars were particularly impressed by Mobileye’s offshoot OrCam, which has created a device to help vision impaired people see, using artificial vision and wearable technology.
Levy says the technology can be used to alert blind people to nearby objects, and can even be trained to recognise different people in the vision impaired person’s life.
It’s this kind of selfless entrepreneurial thinking that Moriah College is trying to inspire in students.
“These kids are thinking globally, it’s not a traditional career path that they’re looking for,” Hart says.
“We hope that we’re equipping them with the values and certainly the disposition to make a difference.
“People can have skills, and be very selfish about them. Now we don’t want that, we want them to really think about the world outside their bubbles ... and we’re trying to say, ‘think differently’.