Mars Petcare and RMIT University team up to deliver solutions for a future that prioritises pets in the workplace

Mars Petcare and RMIT University team up to deliver solutions for a future that prioritises pets in the workplace

On the 31st of August 2021, RMIT Activator and Mars Petcare delivered a one day virtual Innovation Challenge capturing the challenges of shifting to a pet-friendly future.

It’s simpler than it sounds, with our teams grappling with questions like: 

  • How can we make sure our pets are happy in their new environments? 
  • What about allergies? 
  • Which pets are most suited to the workplace? 
  • Who owns the pets?
  • How can we track benefit or detriment to productivity and mental health?

For some, pet-friendly is the only way forward after working at home with our beloved companions throughout the pandemic and seeing endorphin levels spike. For others, it’s a logistical nightmare. Which is where the rapid-fire ideation methodology of an ‘innovation challenge’ like the one hosted by Activator and Mars Petcare comes in. 

Firstly, what is an ‘innovation challenge’?

An ‘innovation challenge’ is an integrated experience where students, academics, founders and business work together in multidisciplinary teams, to apply design thinking methodology to some of the world’s greatest challenges. While the challenges vary hugely in the content they deliver and lessons taught, one thing they have in common is the final pitch. After all the hard work and rapid ideation, each team pitch their solutions to an audience and judging panel. This is not only a great chance for participants to gain industry exposure but also to test their skills and hopefully walk away with the grand prize.

RMIT Activator’s challenges – how do we differ?

At RMIT Activator, our ‘innovation challenges’ build participants’ capability across a range of contemporary, best-practice innovation methodologies and frameworks. Our aim is to help people identify and then apply relevant tools and techniques, effectively building their own ‘innovators toolkit’. We empower participants to adapt and be agile across a range of innovation initiatives.

Image description: A series of company logos, you can learn and read about these company’s below. Text reads: Weclome, LaunchHUB’s newest cohort, RMIT Activator.

Mars Petcare innovation challenge

The Mars Petcare innovation challenge took place during RMIT Activator’s ‘What’s Possible? Entrepreneurship Month. Students, academics, founders and plenty of others came together to create, knowledge share and discover. The month was focused on the core theme of diversity, inclusion and access, asking the question: as the world surges into a digital future, how can we make sure no one gets left behind? 

Determined to ensure our pets are not forgotten as we slowly move back in the office post COVID-19, people from RMIT and the general public came together to participate in the Mars Petcare innovation challenge to provide solutions to the problem statement: how can we create pet-friendly workplaces? 

 Students were encouraged to consider things such as landlord requirements, perceptions and attitudes and health and safety when ideating solutions.

Miguel Rivera, Portfolio Marketing Director at Mars Petcare endorsed the partnership, saying, “At Mars Petcare we believe in creating a better world for pets. We are incredibly excited to be working with RMIT to develop real-world innovations to make Australian workplaces more inclusive for pets. 

Young people are the nation’s workforce of the future. We hope that this event encouraged employers and businesses to reconsider their workplace designs for both graduates entering the workforce and their pets!"

Six teams were formed, where most people were meeting for the first time. The final projects pitched included pet-friendly workplace consultants, caregiving services, pet registration systems/pet profiles, all-in-one pet platforms and more.  

The final step was the pitch to our panel of judges, carefully selected to represent expertise from across the pet care and innovation sectors: 

  • Miguel Rivera, Portfolio Marketing Director at Mars Petcare
  • Tammie King, Applied Behaviour Technical Leader at Mars Petcare   
  • Matt Salier, Director of RMIT Activator.  

After a tricky decision (especially considering $3k was at stake) we are excited to share the winning teams with you:

  • First Prize – Smitan Pradhan with PetMate, an all-in-one application for all your pet needs. 
  • Second Prize – Abhinav Sagarika Bansidhar, Yingmiao Wang and Angelo David with DogeWalk, a trustworthy and affordable platform for pet caring. 
  • Third Prize - Dushan Puhulwellage, Henry Yates, Tina Tran and Tung Ngo with Regidog, a registration system for office pets. 

Smitan Pradhan, WINNER of the Innovation Challenge, pulled together a slick, well-researched and innovative solution that earnt him first place. 

“Participation in the Mars PetcareiInnovation challenge was an enriching experience. As an inquisitive thinker, I often ideate solutions that can have a positive impact. The challenge was a platform for me to view the problems associated with pet-caring holistically and design a solution to overcome them with a structured problem-solving approach. I was also immensely fascinated by the ideas presented by a diverse group of participants”  

Second place winner, Angelo David of DogeWalk, was inspired by the solution created during the challenge and is launching into the real world.

"RMIT Activator has always provided an environment for growth both professionally and personally; the event itself was no different... the skills and mindsets we learned in Activator were priceless to both our jobs and further entrepreneurial ventures.”  

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 meaning the event was moved online, it was a pleasure to power ahead and create meaningful connections, innovative solutions, and a different kind of fun during lockdown. 

If you are looking for a fresh perspective on an industry problem that only an innovation challenge can provide, contact RMIT Activator at to talk about partnering up – it’s an incredible pressure cooker environment and the results speak for themselves. 

Mars offers a two-year graduate program in Engineering, Research & Development, Sales and Marketing designed to accelerate development as a leader. Applications will open in June 2022 for the 2023 cohort. For more information visit,

05 October 2021


05 October 2021


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