At Blackbird, we believe world-changing ideas lie dormant in Australia and New Zealand’s universities.

The best in Australia and New Zealand are the best in the world. Our top decile performers from any domain stand toe-to-toe with their peers overseas, yet only a tiny fraction of our most talented people take the leap to translate their excellence into bold startups. 

It’s time to see the best minds of this generation create the brightest, wildest future for the next.

Wild Futures is Blackbird and AWS naming and stepping up to the challenge.
Watch the ama recording

Wild Futures gives teams the opportunity to pitch and cultivate their most ambitious concepts. This is Blackbird's inaugural startup ideas competition, in partnership with AWS: an opportunity like no other in New Zealand or Australia.

Apply with your boldest idea, from scientific to software, and have it reviewed by Blackbird’s investment team and a small group of incredible founders and academics. Team members can be anyone, provided the team leader is a student enrolled at an Australian or New Zealand university.

Shortlisted teams will participate in an eight-week whirlwind mentorship and development program with Blackbird’s investment team and founders, culminating in the demo day to end all demo days.

The winning team has the opportunity to pitch their startup at Sunrise, Australia’s premier startup festival. Previous guest speakers have included Melanie Perkins and Mike Cannon-Brookes, so you'd be in good company. There’s also a cheeky 15k cash prize. 


What we're looking for

Wild hearts with wild ideas. Global ambition. Creative solutions to consequential problems.

In short, we want you to explore your best ideas to solve real problems.

Ask yourself:

  • What annoys you about the world? What needs to be better? What are you going to do about it?
  • What science or technology fascinates you? What's something you can't believe isn't on the market already? What potential excites you?
  • What's an idea that only you can bring to life?

We love projects that are bounded somewhere between the improbable and the impossible, and we’re prepared to take technical risks for consequential outcomes. We've invested A$1.4BN in a portfolio that includes:

We've also supported a stable of generational software companies in Australia, from Canva to Safety Culture to Culture Amp and Dovetail.

The process

Step 1: Get a team and idea together and apply by January 17th, 2022. We're providing support through the application process. See the Key Dates for more info.

Step 2: The top 20 teams chosen by our judging panel will be invited to interview in February.

Step 3: The top 10 teams proceed to our 8-week program in March-April, where they:
  1. Receive mentoring from our investment team, the best in the country (yes, really);
  2. Participate in a series of rigorous workshops to hone those ambitious ideas to commercial sharpness;
  3. Get drenched in the Wild Futures and broader Blackbird community.
Step 4: At the end of the program, every team presents at a demo day, attended and judged by the very best of the Blackbird community.

Step 5: The winning team wins a 5k AUD cash prize and presents to an audience of Australia’s best founders, operators and investors at Blackbird's Sunrise Festival 2022.

Can I apply?

Probably! The only rules are:

  1. Team leaders (min. 1 per team) must be currently enrolled at an Australian or New Zealand university. You can be a domestic or international student, undergraduate or postgraduate, full- or part-time—just make sure you're enrolled;
  2. If selected, your team must commit to participating in the full eight-week program.

That's it. We want at least one member of your team—the team leader—to be enrolled at an Aussie or Kiwi uni.

The rest of the team can be anyone from anywhere: mentors, professors, mates. You can present existing projects with appropriate permissions, provided they’re still relatively young.

We're also providing application support. We're hosting an AMA on November 23 at 11am AEST to answer any questions you might have. We're also holding two networking nights to give you an opportunity to find teammates and two ideating sessions where we'll take you through a design thinking workshop to help you develop an idea. See Key Dates for more info.

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The application

Applications are assessed on the validity and ambition of your idea, and the spirit and competence of your team.

There are two forms in this application. In the first, you'll need to provide contact details for each team member. You can fill this form out as an EOI.

In the second, you'll be asked to answer the following (character counts are maxima, brevity can be powerful!):

  1. Tell us about the problem you want to solve. [650 characters]
  2. Describe your startup idea [1300 characters]
  3. What do you understand about the world that no one else does? In that sense, what's unique about your approach? [1300 characters]
  4. What does success look like for your idea? [650 characters]
  5. Here's your opportunity to shine: provide supporting documentation for your idea. This could be key research papers, an explanation for a layperson, diagrams, a company thesis, a presentation, a video essay, an interpretive dance...
  6. If we only read or looked at one of the above, which one would it be?
  7. Introduce your team. [2000 characters]
  8. What drives you? [1300 characters]
  9. Where does the Wild Futures competition take you? What would you get out of this? [1300 characters]
  10. Why you? [1300 characters]

Applications should be submitted by the team leader on behalf of the whole team and must be submitted by 11:59pm AEST on January 17, 2022.

Key dates

Applications open: 
18 October 2021, 9am AEDT
23 November 2021, 11am AEDT
Seminar + networking night:
15 December 2021, 6pm AEDT
Applications close:
17 January 2022, 11:59pm AEDT
Round 1 notifications:
21 January 2022
7-11 February 2022
Round 2 notifications:
18 February 2022

Chaos agents "in charge"

Michael Tolo

Principal, Blackbird

Clare Birch

Scientist in Residence, Blackbird
Creative Director, Blackbird

For more info, get in touch with us

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It's time to see the best minds of this generation create the brightest, wildest future for the next.

Wild Futures is the inaugural Blackbird x AWS Startups Australia/New Zealand startup ideas competition.

Shortlisted teams will be notified on January 21, 2022.
The cohort will be announced publicly on February 21, 2022.

In the meantime, check out Blackbird and AWS Startups, or get in touch at

© Blackbird Ventures 2021. All rights reserved.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Blackbird acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.