UNSW's commercialisation company NewSouth Innovations now counts more than 200 student start-ups on its books, just two years after launching its entrepreneurship scheme.
Joshua Flannery, who oversees the Student Entrepreneur Development program, says its traction in such a short period of time had surpassed initial projections.
"Students at UNSW are clearly very entrepreneurial – we've been inundated with projects," Flannery says. "It was a reality check when we saw the number of students investing any spare time they had into innovation."
Eleven start-ups have already been incorporated as companies, with six of them attracting external funding, including from angel investors, crowd funding, government grants and competitions.
The 11 companies include Conscious Step, which sells socks to fund charitable causes.
"NSi provided us with realistic challenges that helped improve our sales skills, pitching confidence and work ethic, helping Conscious Step excel to the next stages of business development," Managing Director Prashant Mehta says.
"The support of people like Joshua Flannery and the resources of the NSi program made a career in entrepreneurship more exciting and achievable."
Young Entrepreneurs video series
Conscious Step is one of eight UNSW-led start-ups featured in a new video series and website – Young Entrepreneurs – launched today. Produced by UNSWTV and the UNSW Media Office, the series showcases the next generation of innovators pitching their new ideas.
Meetisan – a networking platform to facilitate meetings between people at appropriate venues – is another beneficiary of the Student Entrepreneur Development program.
"We cover the costs and process of incorporating the companies," Flannery says. "We provide shareholder agreements and all other company documents they need when setting up."
NSi has also recently struck partnerships with Google and Rackspace to provide free technology services to start-ups accepted into the program.
NSi does not take or receive a financial stake in any of the start-ups, and students retain the intellectual property they create.
"Why do we do it? It's very much a medium to longer-term play positioning ourselves as a value add to students' degrees," Flannery says.
"For us it's more about giving the students exposure to an entrepreneurial experience, letting them find out that it is or isn't for them, and all the learnings that come from participating in that process.
"Our greater goal is to position UNSW as a global leader in entrepreneurship and innovation, and to make UNSW a cool place to engage with at all levels".
In March, NSi hosted the UNSW Startup Games, now in its second year.
School of Computer Science and Engineering Venture Space
UNSW’s innovation culture was recently boosted with the appointments of leading entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Ori Allon as Adjunct Professors in the School of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). The appointments, initially for three years, will see Cannon-Brookes and Allon advise the School on ways to encourage students to explore and act on their start-up ideas.
Head of CSE, Associate Professor Maurice Pagnucco, says the Adjunct Professor appointments are “a coup for the continuing development of start-up programs within the School”, which is home to a Venture Space for students and recent graduates.
“Over the past couple of years we've been exploring more opportunities for our students – we really want to foster this innovation culture. It's becoming much more important to society," Pagnucco says.
Media contact: Ry Crozier, UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 1933 | 0425 245 887 | firstname.lastname@example.org