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Gearing up for Kick Start 2020

While the effect of the pandemic can be seen in almost every market, small-to-medium businesses and entrepreneurs in particular have been some of the hardest hit. 

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has made getting business ideas off the ground – ordinarily never an easy feat – even more challenging. As a result, many SMBs and entrepreneurs have been left feeling lost and unsettled. Enter the St.George Kick Start 2020 program.

4 minute read

What’s in this article:

  • St.George Kick Start was set up to help small-to-medium business owners and entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground during COVID-19
  • This year’s program saw 950 entrepreneurs and businesses narrowed down to just 12 finalists
  • All of the finalists will compete at TEDxSydney 2020 for a chance to win one of two $40k grants and two $10k runner-up grants


Set up to support Australian entrepreneurs and small-to-medium businesses in this time of uncertainty, the St.George Kick Start program enables brilliant ideas to become a reality with the help of several business grants. 

The twelve finalists will pitch at TEDxSydney 2020 – this year a digital event – and a panel of judges for a chance to win one of two $40k grants and two $10k runner-up grants. 

"We are delighted to partner with TEDxSydney for the seventh consecutive year through the St.George Kick Start program,” says Mark Stafford, SME State General Manager NSW/ACT at St.George.

The Kick Start 2020 program

The St.George Kick Start 2020 program saw 950 applications received over a four-month period. These applicants were then put through a stringent assessment and filtering process, which involved creating an objective framework to assess the clarity and strength of the applicants’ purpose, uniqueness, local community impact, commerciality and scalability.

“The Kick Start program provides business owners and entrepreneurs with an avenue to source funding to help bring their innovative ideas to life,” says Safford. “It's important that we continue to encourage and support the entrepreneurial spirit of Australian businesses in these troubling times.”  

The St.George Kick Start program judging process

Applicants had the choice to enter either of the two main categories (category one, a new business idea, or category two, a new idea to grow a business) depending on in which stage of growth they found themselves with their business at the time of entering the program. Applicants in category one predominantly represent smaller businesses on the brink of launching their idea, with only a small proportion of those already generating substantial revenue. Category two heroes existing and established businesses of various sizes, revenue and employees launching a new idea to progress their operations.

While applicants generally represented a wide range of industries, this year, business trends seemed to lean strongly towards the TMT (technology, marketing and telecommunications), education and healthcare sectors.

The Kick Start program finalists 

Among the category one finalists is Zero Co, a business offering environmentally friendly cleaning and personal care products, and re-usable sachets, made from recycled ocean plastic. Customers return the sachets after use for Zero Co to refill, thereby removing the need for single-use plastic in the home. 

Hillridge Technology, another of the New Business Idea category finalist, has designed a type of parametric insurance, based on metrics such as rainfall and temperature, to help farmers deal with the impact of drought, frost and heatwaves on yields and livestock.

The category two finalists are equally as impressive. Mental health organisation batyr is looking to grow its digital program batyr2peer, which uses a three-part video series and workbook to connect hospitalised youth with other mental health sufferers. And Sustinent’s innovative biotech solution will help convert crop waste into animal feed. 

Category two finalist, Xceptional’s aim is to tackle the unemployment rate for autistic people, which sits at up to 80%. It works with employer partners including Westpac, Google and Optus to inspire them to be more accepting of people with disabilities.

The top 12

Category 1 (new business idea)

Category 2 (an idea to grow an existing business)


Come this November, the St.George Kick Start 2020 program’s 12 finalists will take to the stage at TEDxSydney. 

Learn more about your St.George Kick Start 2020 finalists here