qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: iKnow (Wajarra Studios) – Q&A

iKnow - logo

1. What is Wajarra Studios?

Wajarra Studios is a newly-established start-up commercialising ‘iKnow’, a proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) eLearning platform that represents a second-generation disruption to the global eLearning market.

2. Who are the people behind Wajarra Studios?

The foundation team for Wajarra Studios consists of:

  • Dr Scott Bolland (CEO, Director and Shareholder). Scott is a neuroscientist and has spent the last 20 years actively researching and teaching in the field of cognitive science – the interdisciplinary study of how the mind works spanning such disciplines as neuroscience, psychology and computational science. He holds a PhD in this area, as well as a University Medal for outstanding academic scholarship.
  • Dr Peter Beven (Executive Director and Chairman). Peter has over 25 years experience in technology commercialisation with the likes of CSIRO, the University of New England and various state governments and is also contracted to the Department of Defence as a commercialisation advisor. He is employed by the QUT Graduate School of Business as a specialist in innovation, intellectual property management, strategy and planning where he teaches into advanced award and corporate programs such as the MBA, Executive MBA and Executive Masters in Complex Project Management for the Department of Defence.
  • Ms Kym Warner (incoming Director and Shareholder). Kym is a finance specialist and is currently the CFO for News Corporation.
  • Mr David Beckett (incoming Director – TBC). David is a Partner (Mergers and Acquisitions) in national law firm Johnson, Winter & Slattery.

Key Advisors include:

  • Mr Sean Howard. Sean was the founder of Ozemail, the first Australian technology stock to be listed on NASDAQ and subsequently sold to WORLDCOM.
  • Professor Peter Little, QUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Programs and Partnerships).

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

Dr Beven is a QUT Staff member of the Graduate School of Business, Ms Warner is a member of QUT Alumni and Dr Bolland is a former QUT staff member of QUT Graduate School of Business.

To further the planning process there is also a team of five experienced Executive MBA students actively assisting Wajarra Studios with the business planning process.

4. How long have you been operating as a business?

Wajarra Studios is a new start-up to commercialise intellectual property in the global market.

5. How did you come up with the idea for Wajarra Studios?

The idea that has culminated in the formation of Wajarra Studios originated as a result of Dr Bolland’s PhD research and the subsequent research that was funded as a $1 million philanthropic grant from Mr Howard.

The idea was further matured as a result of exploration of the use of technology in higher-order learning through the QUT Graduate School of Business.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Dr Beven has extensive start-up and business experience. He has been directly involved in a number of research and government spin-outs and has founded his own successful technology ventures including one government partnership which currently employs around 45 staff.

He is an angel investor with ownership in five technology ventures, including one in partnership with the Queensland Government and is an investment advisor to two family funds.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with Wajarra Studios to date?

Completing product prototyping in a bootstrapping mode.

8. What has been your biggest success with Wajarra Studios so far?

Preliminary agreements with initial clients and partners who will become the basis of early cash flow and growth.

These include:

  • Queensland Government (schools and health education)
  • News Corporation
  • Acquire Learning (national vocational training market)

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

Elon Musk – visionary and mould-breaker!

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would be an enormous support to get ‘investor ready’ and launch into first round user testing in specified market segments.