University of Queensland
Dick Smith, who has become as well-known for his outlandish media stunts as he is for his entrepreneurial activities, is offering a $1 million prize for an innovator to tackle a rather complex issue – population. With Australia’s population passing 23 million this week, Smith is increasingly agitating for action to combat our “population and consumption growth-obsessed economy”. However, Dick is keeping his powder dry. After launching his Wilberforce Award – for someone under the age of 30 to come up with a solution to perennial growth – in 2010, Smith has declined to hand out the $1 million in prize money. No one has come up with a good enough idea, according to Smith. Perhaps surprisingly, he feels that teen conservationist Bindi Irwin has come closest to landing the cash. Thankfully, there are plenty of easier competitions for start-ups to enter, rather than Dick’s population bounty. Here are five of the best that are ideal for various types of Australian ventures. 1. Startup Weekend Dubbed the ‘world’s largest start-up competition’, Startup Weekend has spread rapidly across Australia since arriving on our shores in 2011. Events are now regularly held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, with the latter city becoming the latest to join the party last year. The concept is pleasingly simple. Entrepreneurs turn up to a gathering, are grouped into teams and have 54 hours to devise and create a new business. These hastily-conceived ideas are then pitched to a panel of judges. The winner walks away with $5000 but, more importantly, access to further mentoring and opportunities – such as a spot in a Singapore incubator. As the Startup Weekend website promises, “Whether you launch a successful start-up, find a co-founder, meet someone new or learn a skill far outside your usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave Startup Weekend better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of start-ups.” Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 2. G’Day USA There are a growing number of great conferences, seminars and meet-ups aimed at Australian start-ups. Increasingly, these gatherings are including pitch competitions as part of their format. One of the most notable new competitions is staged by G’Day USA, the annual program designed to showcase Australian business in the US. The first Digital Australia Shootout was held in Los Angeles in January. The pitch competition featured Australian start-ups in the media, entertainment and technology sectors. Various heavy hitters from US venture capital funds judged the competition. More than 200 Australian companies are showcased every year in G’Day USA. If America is a target market, it may well be worth your while to get involved, even if you don’t pitch. Gerard Seeber, Austrade senior trade commissioner in New York, says: “Americans know Australia as a land of big spaces. We want them to know it is also a land of big ideas.” “G’Day USA is an opportunity to show how Australia’s culture of innovation makes it an ideal place to invest and do business.” Story continues on page 3. Please click below. 3. Australian Clean Technologies Competition Rather than compete with start-ups from a range of different industries, why not get sector-specific? There are several competitions for start-ups within a certain industry, with the Australian Clean Technologies Competition being a good example of how a niche product or service can be recognised. Established three years ago, the competition is designed to bolster the chances of success for Australian clean technology innovators through mentoring, business coaching and marketing. More than 100 companies entered last year, with seven named as finalists. They included SkyCool, which has devised a new type of building cooling, Aeratron, a venture with a new energy-efficient fan design, and enLighten Australia, which designs and supplies highly efficient LED lighting for commercial, industrial and residential strata applications. Story continues on page 4. Please click below. 4. Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge If you’re at the business plan stage, Australia’s universities provide a bevy of options to showcase your idea for cash. Sadly, the Enterprize challenge, arguably Australia’s leading business plan competition, has been wound down by the University of Queensland, which offered a hefty prize cheque of $100,000 to winners. Thankfully, there are quite a few alternatives, such as the Sydney Genesis Entrepreneurship Challenge. Launched in 2008, the competition offers workshops, mentoring, networking and $10,000 in prizes. Last year, more than 80 teams competed, with the pick including a smartphone app that connects parents with babysitters, technology that raises money for charity as you exercise, and a CBD locker room for bicycle riders. Story continues on page 5. Please click below. 5. Microsoft BizSpark In some start-up competitions, you’ve very much got to play by the sponsor’s rules – to the point that you have to use their product or service to be able to compete. The Microsoft BizSpark program is open to all-comers – as long as you use Microsoft technology. Last year, taxi location app goCatch beat eight other finalists to be named winner of Microsoft’s APAC Startup 2012 Award. GoCatch beat an impressive field of rivals to land the $5000 prize, including customised jewellery maker StyleRocks, New Zealand-based HR tool Avancert and Melbourne start-up Sound Gecko, which converts online articles into audio files. All of the finalists are part of Microsoft’s BizSpark program, which aims to foster start-ups.
A new device developed by the University of Queensland aims to preserve the health and wellbeing of office workers by prompting them to leave their desks.
It’s well known that some universities have a heavier focus on entrepreneurship than others. But when it comes to funding prospects for student start-ups, does the university make a difference?
Queensland start-up Vaxxas is relocating to Massachusetts after striking a major new deal with biotech giant Merck, one of the largest vaccine firms in the world.
The vice president of multinational finance giant GE has raised doubts about the success of online training programs, insisting they can’t replace face-to-face courses.
The University of Queensland has announced it will offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the next two years, following in the footsteps of the University of Melbourne.
Government grants are notoriously hard to snare for start-up businesses and can involve completing a mountain of time-sapping paperwork in the application process.
A new search application developed by UniQuest start-up Leximancer is being piloted at the University of Queensland (UQ), via an online research platform from Dutch company Elsevier.
Materials science start-up TenasiTech will ramp up development of its polymer technology after securing $1.4 million in grants and equity capital from the Queensland Government and Uniseed.
A University of Queensland associate professor will collaborate with a US biotech company on an innovative biofuel production system, thanks to an R&D contract facilitated by UniQuest.
Brisbane-based student fashion start-up Wikifashion will relocate to New York later this year, after using the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board to set in motion three rounds of funding.
Tech start-up incubator ilab is offering competitive grants of up to $50,000 for Queensland entrepreneurs, after opening its doors to new premises and programs today.
The Federal Government has launched a new market intelligence tool designed to help assess the commercial potential of university researchers’ projects.
Brisbane start-up Bilexys has won the Pre-Revenue Track award in the $US200,000 Imagine H20 prize for water start-ups, held in San Francisco, receiving cash and in-kind services.
A start-up based at the University of Queensland has been named as a finalist in the $US200,000 Imagine H20 prize for water start-ups, run by US-based non-profit group Imagine H2O.
The definition of success among small firms depends on whether they are motivated by growth or lifestyle, an academic says, but both have the potential to be profitable.
When it comes to women in business, Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world. Still.
V-Tol Aerospace, a Queensland based company that develops unmanned aircraft systems, has teamed up with the University of Queensland to launch the Australian Unmanned Systems Academy (AUSA).
Spinifex, a biotech start-up, has received a $6.3 million funding boost to help it bring its nerve pain therapy to market.
UniQuest has announced this year’s winners of its $50,000 Trailblazer competition, with winning ideas ranging from a new therapy for bone cancer to a safer way to extract copper.