Home' Forge : Vol 3 No 2 Contents 54 // FEATURE
of founders of really high-potential
businesses are that they have a
university education and they have
more than a bachelor ’s degree.’
The University of Adelaide
was one of the first in Australia
to establish its own business
incubator in the 1990s.
‘Now, it’s a holistic portal into the
university for anything to do with
innovation and entrepreneurship,’
says Professor Noel Lindsay, a
former businessman who is also the
university’s Pro Vice Chancellor of
Lindsay oversees entrepreneurship
and innovation across the
university, which includes the
ThincLab Adelaide innovation
hub. Within that hub, there’s
a business incubator, a tech
lab, the Australian eChallenge
entrepreneurship program, and
massive open online courses
(MOOCs) on business topics.
The innovation hub is home
to staff, students and alumni
start-ups, but also to businesses,
large corporations and service
providers. Meanwhile, its tech lab
boasts advanced 3D printers, and
links in with printing facilities
in university departments such
as engineering and architecture.
Businesses and hobbyists can also
learn how to use the technology at
Lindsay says it all ties in with the
university’s overarching vision,
or mission, of ‘generating social
and economic dividends for
‘The uni is not some sort of airy-
fairy thing, a white elephant, an
arrogant and aloof entity ... that the
average person can’t relate to. We’re
trying to reach out,’ he says.
That reach is an increasingly global
one. The university’s flagship
entrepreneur program, the Australian
eChallenge, has long given Australian
early-stage ventures a competition-
based learning experience where
they can pitch their concepts
to potential investors from the
business community. Over 12 weeks,
participants undertake a series of
specialised workshops and work with
experienced business mentors.
For the past two years, the
accelerator program has been
running in 10 engineering and
business schools in six French cities,
with Adelaide lecturers flown over
to teach much of the course.
The eChallenge will also be
launched in at least three
universities in Italy this November.
Lindsay says the idea is not only to
make the university more visible
internationally, but also to promote
global collaboration between South
Australian businesses and the rest
of the world.
‘You can’t afford to be just looking
in your backyard – that backyard
has grown,’ he says.
Meanwhile, the university
last year launched a business
incubator in France, thanks to an
agreement with the French city of
Châlons-en-Champagne, about an
hour from Paris.
Known as ThincLab Châlons, the
incubator will support innovation
and help local entrepreneurs, while
giving University of Adelaide
alumni, research students and staff
the opportunity to commercialise
their research innovations in
In Adelaide, the university is
considering making it compulsory
for all students – not just those in
business – to undertake classes in
‘Employers value entrepreneurial
employees that are going to help
them develop their business,’ says
Lindsay. ‘Entrepreneurship is core;
it’s core to our future ... not just
business entrepreneurship, but
social entrepreneurship as well.’
Deakin University is one of
the newest entrants on the
entrepreneurship block. Its SPARK
program, based on a Stanford
University accelerator of the same
name, is in its second year.
Program Manager Daizy Maan,
however, says the Deakin program
is intrinsically Australian.
‘We’re developing our own start-up
ecosystem; we’re not the United
States. We are looking at a more
holistic approach,’ she says.
The program includes a speaker
series, with presenters discussing
topics such as fundraising for
your first venture and testing
your business idea. Danish serial
entrepreneur Henrik Scheel, who
lives in Silicon Valley, recently
flew in to talk about planning a
successful career in uncertain times.
There are also workshops, and an
accelerator program that offers six
teams up to $10,000 in funding,
along with mentoring and support.
‘We’re looking at innovative models
and at things that are generally
scalable to some degree,’ says Maan.
‘Whether you start a business or not,
being entrepreneurial is something
that employers are looking for.’
Melbourne’s Monash University has
also joined the party. Its program, The
Generator, first ran as a pilot in 2016.
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