The University of Newcastle, Australia

Grand Challenge: Ask Me Anything with 2019 Grand Challenge Winners

9 Sep 2020 from 5:00pm - 6:00pm

2019 winners

By joining this event you are under no obligation to submit a proposal to the Grand Challenge. Those that intend to, however, will find this event will help you to develop a great submission. This is an event for anybody to join, regardless of your affiliation to the University.

The University of Newcastle’s Grand Challenge is an annual initiative with the aim of encouraging multi-disciplinary teams to propose and develop potential solutions to a complex challenge. The most compelling submissions will share in $50,000 in funds to advance their idea.

This year the Grand Challenge has focussed on a complex problem that has both local and global significance – controlling mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can be a major annoyance, but also present an increasing threat of disease.

At this Ask Me Anything you'll have the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the teams that successfully secured funding in the 2019 Grand Challenge to help you develop and refine a potential solution for submission to the Grand Challenge. They will highlight the challenges and successes of realising their proposal using the funds they secured as winners over a 6 month period.

Event is free but registration essential - book here.

Grand Challenge 2019 winners

Sustainable Mosquito Control project spans three continents: Ghislain Ntignonawoe (alumnus) and Karl Anderson are based in Minnesota, USA; Dr Victorien Dougnon is in Benin, Africa; and Evangeline Fox and Charlotte Brew are here in Newcastle, where they are studying for their undergraduate degrees. Central to the SMC project is determining if a certain bacteria known to produce proteins toxic to mosquitoes can be effectively produced and applied in communities in West Africa using commonly found tuber waste as a growth medium. The team's research undertaken with Grand Challenge funding is showing promise and they are now working with a not-for-profit group, RAB Togo, and local government to enable West African school students to potentially scale the project.

May Contain Seeds project was conceived by Professor SueAnne Ware (Head of School of Architecture and Bult Environment) who hypothesised that the seed bombs used by guerrilla gardeners to introduce plant life to inaccessible urban areas could be used at Callaghan as an interactive way to introduce cultivate aromatic plant species known to deter mosquitoes. University staff member Miranda Cunningham took on the role of Project Lead and alongside SueAnne and colleagues Nicholas Flatman, D'arcy Newberry-Dupe and Taona Afful. The team launched their experimental seed bombs earlier this year which are dispensed from gumball machines around the SABE precinct on campus and monitoring of new species growth is continuing.

Intelligent Mosquito Repellent Network project was proposed by a team of alumni staff and community members who proposed an idea using a combination of crowdsourcing, artificial intelligence and predictive modelling to build a network of smart and autonomous repellent devices in public spaces. Mason Jafari, staff member Rahmat Heidari and alumna Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh worked together to build an app to crowdsource incidence of mosquito activity on campus and built a prototype piece of hardware to connect AI code and trigger a repelling mechanism. The team plans to submit a follow-on proposal in the Grand Challenge 2020 to further build out and test their technology.

Borne project was inspired by popular social enterprise brands Toms and Thankyou. University students and friends Timothy Key, Bal Dhital, Daniel Robson and Patrick Prell proposed the development of a clothing brand that combines odour-free anti-insect repellant fabric and a surfwear aesthetic to create the Borne brand. Funds from sales would be donated to UN Foundation's grassroots initiative Nothing But Nets which distributes insecticide-treated nets, malaria testing kits, as well as education and training for healthcare workers in countries most at risk of malaria.

The Grand Challenge

Skill up and get informed to help drive a strong submission to the Grand Challenge. Grand Challenge submissions open Sep 21 – Oct 25

The Grand Challenge is open to all University of Newcastle students, staff, academics and alumni across the globe, as well as the wider community. It 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. For more information visit

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