BENDIGO businesses combined with university students and graduates to work through real-world challenges at the Innovation Games on Thursday.

The fast-paced event saw 10 teams exploring how businesses can use digital solutions to drive growth domestically and internationally.

Developed by Paddl – a web application that helps students secure workplace experience and skills – the day focused on problems solving and creative solutions.

Paddl founder Dominique Fisher said games were established by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia and the state government to help small businesses acquire new digital skills.

“This day is designed to bring small businesses together with emerging talent,” she said.

“Each of the 10 Bendigo businesses here have a dedicated innovation team that includes six students and graduates in fields like IT, data analytics, finance, marketing and creative design

“They are working to understand issues they are facing in growing their business. Teams will find the real opportunity for the business, conceive a solution or idea, and present how that idea will work.”

Apco Bendigo franchisee Damian Carew was hoping to find an innovative solution to improve the speed of service for his customers waiting for petrol.

“It’s something we’re conscious of,” he said. “As a consumer, (petrol is) a grudge purchase. You’re usually in a hurry and then you sit in queue to wait.

“(Often) by the time customers come into our store, they’re sick of being there, especially if on you’re on your way somewhere on a Saturday morning. It makes you unlikely to purchase something in the shop, you just want to get out.”

Mr Carew was excited to hear some fresh ideas about a common frustration for drivers wanting petrol.

“We want to engage the customers waiting on our forecourts and help get those people through the business,” he said.

“I am trying to be conscious to not put forward what I think are solutions. It’s about getting fresh minds looking at it.”

Paddl and the Innovation Games are also beneficial for the students involved, offering networking opportunities and problem solving experience.

“Paddl lets student graduates set up and build an experience profile based on professional activities,” Ms Fisher said.

“These are skills relevant to their qualification, so that by the time they graduate, they can say to employers, I can do all these things like problem solving and working with businesses.

“(Students) are able to prove they have experience and know how to apply the knowledge they have gained into the real business world.”

Extracted from Bendigo Advertiser