The Grand Challenge will bring together multidisciplinary minds from across our community to explore solutions around one of the more perplexing problems of our time.

A combined $50,000 in funding is available to teams who submit the most innovative proposals addressing the challenge of controlling mosquitoes. Participants will be supported with a range of events and workshops to help ensure their proposal has the best chance of securing funding.

The Grand Challenge is a great way to meet new people, be exposed to fresh ideas, learn new skills and build creative, original work while having real-world impact. Great ideas come from everywhere, so no matter your background or experience you’ve got everything to gain by participating.

About the Challenge

There are two problem statements to this Challenge. Proposals should include responses to one or both of the following questions:

  • How might we reduce the health risks that certain species of mosquitoes pose to humans?
  • How might we lessen the nuisance factor imposed by urban and invading mosquito populations?

All proposals are required to be socially and environmentally responsible and work towards the benefit of either local or global communities. Interdisciplinary teamwork is encouraged. It’s a complex challenge so participants are recommended to identify a potential ‘step along the way’ that works to achieve the ultimate outcome of controlling mosquitoes.

Why mosquitoes

In the warmer months, mosquitoes can be a major annoyance in Australia, and staff and students would love to find ways to reduce their number. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes pose a major health risk as they carry diseases like malaria, dengue and Zika virus. This makes the mosquito the most dangerous animal on the planet. But there are hundreds of species of mosquito and most are neither a nuisance nor a threat to humans and in fact, are an important part of the wetland ecosystem.

Key dates

Mon 29 Jul Registrations open

Tue 20 Aug Team Formation Mixer, Brennan Room, Callaghan campus

Wed 21 Aug Team Formation Mixer, Room AB212, Ourimbah campus

Thu 22 Aug Registrations close

Wed 21 - Wed 28 Online and face-to-face proposal consultations (free event)

Tue 27-Wed 28 Design Spring workshops (free event)

Tue 27, 5:30PM Mosquito Expert Panel (free event)

Thu 29 Aug, 11AM Project applications deadline via DevPost

Thu 29 Aug, Applications reviewed, funded projects advised, pitch finalists notified

Fri 30 Aug 9AM-1PM, Demo Day, Brennan Room, Callaghan campus (for all teams)

Fri 30 Aug 1-2:30PM, Pitch Competition, Godfrey Tanner Bar, Callaghan campus

Mon 2 Mar 2020, Progress short report due 


  • All Teams members must be registered via the Grand Challenge website by 5:00 PM (AEST) Tuesday 27 August 2019.
  • Teams must consist of a minimum of three to a maximum of five members.
  • At least one team member must be a University of Newcastle student, staff or alumni based in Australia.


All Teams must be registered with Devpost and submit their proposal to the University of Newcastle Grand Challenge Devpost page by 11:00 AM (AEST), Thursday 29 August 2019. The Devpost team page must include the following:

  • Team name
  • Team member’s full names
  • Team Lead’s name
  • Name of Project with a one-sentence description
  • Graphic that best captures your concept i.e. a logo or image
  • Create a link from YouTube to a video of no more than 3-minutes duration that outlines your project and its proposed outcomes.
  • A longer description of what your Project is about, including these headings (no more than 1,000 words in total):

1. Define the problem you are seeking to solve.

2. Describe your big idea (what is the vision?).

3. Describe and illustrate (if possible) your proposed solution.

4. What is the core foundation of your research or solution (this could be technology, research, know-how, etc)?

5. Describe who you think your end-user and/or paying customer could be.

6. Describe your Technology Readiness Level or Research Literature Level.

7. Describe the top three critical hypotheses you want to explore, including:

  • How you will test them;
  • Describe your experimental plan, including any new technologies or tools to be developed; and
  • If your experiment/s in the testing phase is successful what are the next steps?

8. Describe how would use the funding to progress your hypotheses, including:

  • How will the work described be performed within the budget (up to AU$5,000) and time period (6 months) allocated for the testing phase (resources, capability, etc)?
  • What essential outcomes will you generate during your testing phase?
  • Include a brief breakdown of allowable costs.

9. What you’ve done to date, including challenges and wins.

10. Why your idea is an unconventional or creative approach to the problem.


Hackathon Sponsors


$50,000 in prizes

Project Funding (9)

There is a total funding pool of $45,000 with projects eligible for up to $5,000 in funding. This means at least 9 projects will be funded, more if projects submitted require less than $5,000 in funding.

Judges Choice

The most outstanding funded projects will be invited to a Pitch Competition on Friday 30 August at the Brennan Room where they will be in the running for the Judges Choice Award.

Peoples' Choice

All submitted projects will be invited to the Demo Day on Friday 30 August (9AM-1PM) at the Brennan Room, Callaghan campus where they can showcase their proposal. The general public will be able to vote for their favourite. The proposal with the most votes will will the People's Choice Award and $2,500.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Siobhan Curran

Siobhan Curran
Manager, Integrated Innovation Network, University of Newcastle

Brett Neilan

Brett Neilan
Professor and Global Chair (Biotechnology), University of Newcastle

Ros Smith

Ros Smith
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Interim) (Research & Innovation)

Judging Criteria

  • Preliminary discovery
    Demonstrated progress the team has achieved during the application window.
  • Clarity of Problem
    Ability to describe well the part of the problem the team is looking solve.
  • Vision / Solution
    Exciting, innovative and unique aspects of the proposal.
  • End-user / Customer
    Demonstrated understanding of the end-user and/or paying customer and the benefits of the proposed solution or research for them.
  • Testability
    Shows a clear, logical and thoughtful description of up to three hypotheses to be tested and potential results that will be produced.
  • Outcomes
    Describes with clarity what the expected minimum viable product will look like or how the minimum viable experiment will be performed within budget and the 6-month time-frame allocated, including what value and/or learnings are planned to be achieved.
  • Action plan
    Clearly articulates next steps and how the funding will be used.
  • Team
    Demonstrates the uniqueness of the team to tackle the challenge and their commitment to their proposal.

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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