Back to Innovation Challenge: Physical Activity


Since 2014-15, VicHealth has launched four rounds of Challenge funding, supporting 23 pilot projects and gaining lots of valuable learnings along the way.  The evaluation so far has identified a number of critical learnings for current and future projects seeking to achieve market success. 

In particular, the funded partners who have progressed their innovations the furthest have focused their efforts from the outset on creating sustainable business models, with identified revenue streams for testing and a strong understanding of their financial customer. 

The following key learnings are presented across the five phases of design thinking: 

  1. Empathise: Know your customer
  2. Define: Grow your thinking
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm your ideas for solutions
  4. Prototype: Develop your resources
  5. Test: Test and respond to feedback



Know your customer

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand what motivates them and what participation barriers they face in their daily lives – sometimes there’s no substitute for actually talking directly to your customers.
  • Continue to talk to your customers throughout every stage.

TeamGym: from Challenge 3 (NEW)

Gymnastics Victoria developed TeamGym (based on a European model) aimed at re-engaging teenage gymnasts who are at risk of dropping out of the sport into a more appealing social and competitive pathway.

In order to better understand what motivates and drives their existing youth participants, Gymnastics Victoria established a ‘youth advisory panel’ to support them with planning and development. As a result, members of the panel have become advocates for the program as well as active participants and have helped sell the idea into clubs.



Grow your thinking

  • Clearly identify the key assumptions that form your idea – based on your understanding of customer needs; collated market insights; understanding of key partners; available expert advice and your own organisational capability.

Walking Football: from Challenge 2

City in the Community (Melbourne City Football Club) developed a safe and social football program for older adults from multi-cultural backgrounds that successfully engaged more than 800 participants in the first year.

Their key to success was their focus on obtaining available market research and developing strong community partnerships with aged care agencies, local councils and community health organisations in the early stages of project implementation to inform the creation of a relevant and appealing program.



Brainstorm your ideas for solutions

  • From project outset, your solution should focus on creating a sustainable business model which involves strong community partnerships and revenue testing.
  • Develop your short-term growth strategy, keeping your long-term plan in mind.

Back2School Fitness: from Challenge 1

From the outset, Healthy Communities Australia sought to test revenue streams in developing their school-based personal training program for parents who drop their children off at the beginning of the school day.

The solution they developed involved a franchise model – including a business plan that placed the franchise owner at the centre of all their decision-making and a growth strategy that extended beyond their initial pilot timeframe to capture a longer term vision of success.

Notably, they also established a steering committee of industry experts to help troubleshoot key development issues and boost their brainstorming power.


Develop your resources

  • Initially your solution should involve minimal costs and minimal technical build to ensure you can market-test quickly and start learning as soon as possible with low financial risk.

Indoor 4s: from Challenge 3 (NEW)

Cricket Victoria developed a new and modified version of Indoor Cricket with 4 player teams and quicker playing times.

After developing their concept with basic resources – including; one page of rules, equipment and survey tools - they tested their idea in the first month of their project timeline at an indoor centre.  The centre and participants were identified through existing relationships for easy activation.

Their initial resource development involved minimal cost/build time and allowed them to get to market quickly and start learning as soon as possible.



Test and respond to feedback

  • Always return to your user groups and test your new ideas to gain feedback.
  • Be open and willing to change your thinking often in order to improve market relevance.

Walking Basketball: from Challenge 2

Basketball Victoria developed Walking Basketball as a way to engage office workers in their sport at lunchtimes.

In testing their concept, they identified the program appealed to other community members outside their original target – including adult women and older adults. As a result, they changed their customer focus and have achieved much greater success, which has seen participating older adults becoming community advocates to sell the opportunity forward to Basketball Associations (deliverers) as well as other community groups (participants).


VicHealth will endeavour to update key learnings as more evaluation data becomes available.