High tech ideas aim for Slingshot funding

OPPORTUNITY: Gareth Wasik wants seed funding to push a digital recruitment tool. Picture: Dean Osland
OPPORTUNITY: Gareth Wasik wants seed funding to push a digital recruitment tool. Picture: Dean Osland

GARETH Wasik is a one-man show, be it in his specialist recruitment business or when he moonlights as a comedian.

But the 33-year-old will be happy to lean on the expert mentors, not to mention pocket up to $50,000 in cash, if he wins one of up to 10 highly coveted places in the Slingshot seed funding program.

"What I like about Slingshot is that it's a Newcastle initiative that supports the community but it also encourages free thought and is open to all - you don't have to have three degrees and an IT background," he said.

Launched by federal Innovation and Industry minister Greg Combet this month, Slingshot is a high-tech accelerator that has access to $10 million in seed funding to help the nation's brightest tech-heads transform their ideas into success stories.

The Newcastle Herald is a partner in this "X-Factor for geeks".

Others include Pricewater-houseCoopers, Sparke Helmore, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Innovation and Hunter TAFE, and is backed by organisations including Hunter Business Chamber, Renew Newcastle and Newcastle Now.

The deadline for applications is April 12 (slingshotters.com).

A panel of experts will choose up to 10 finalists to receive up to $50,000 as well as up to $50,000 in services, from mentoring to the use of A-grade office space, to help them succeed.

Mr Wasik owns Darby Street firm Regional Business Development Solutions, which specialises in recruitment and relocation services for the region's construction, infrastructure and mining industries.

His Slingshot application is an e-recruitment tool using software and technologies including voice and facial recognition.

"It's designed to help minimise the screening time of candidates in the initial phase of recruitment, which will help save companies time and money," he said.

Another Slingshot hopeful is local tech company INKids, run by John McCann and Jude Novak, the founders of Hunter Street tech hub Start House.

The duo's application centres on building a webservice for their company's educational apps to allow teachers to easily share content between iPads in the classroom, and eventually with other teachers.

"Part of the web service will also allow students and teachers to track student engagement and performance when using our apps," Mr McCann said. "They can identify students who might be struggling with particular subjects, or falling behind in particular areas of learning."