It seems the city's business future is in safe hands with young Maitland entrepreneurs being named winners and runners up in four categories at the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards.
The three students and one teacher, from Rutherford Technology High School and Hunter Valley Grammar School, were recognised for their innovative ideas, and were up against other young people from across the Hunter.
Winners received $1000 in prize money, and runners up received $500.
Rutherford Technology High School teacher Jade Bassett won the Teacher Innovation award for her program Women in STEM.
Hunter Valley Grammar School student Isabelle Donohoe won the Secondary & Under 25's Innovation in Sustainability award for her submission Aquarinse.
Rutherford Technology High School student Lotus Antoni won the Secondary & Under 25's Innovation in Business Enterprise award for her submission Dairy Way.
Hunter Valley Grammar School student Annika van Woerkom was awarded runner up in the Secondary & Under 25's Innovation in Social Enterprise award, for her submission Safe Seats.
Ms Antoni said she has big plans for the future for Dairy Way, which aims to create a biodegradable plastic alternative for milk packaging.
"I want to take my concept to UNSW to find the right formula for my sustainable milk carton, to research the correct formula and then take it to the government," she said.
The Hunter Young Business Mind Awards (HYBMA) is now in its sixth year, and recognises people under 25-years-old who have an innovative business concept, product, service or solution, and educators for innovation in the classroom.
HYBMA sub-committee chair Tricia Martin said the organisation is a proud champion of young Hunter innovators.
"In 2024 HYBMA will spotlight and celebrate Hunter youth spanning from primary school to 25 years of age who have developed entrepreneurial solutions to challenges spanning from sustainability, design and tech to accessibility," she said.
"The awards will be open from early 2024."
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