University of Sydney students embrace the challenges of entrepreneurship

26 November 2012

With the business world placing increasing emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, University of Sydney students are embracing new opportunities to turn their business ideas into reality.

An innovation challenge run by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and a start-up development program provided by the University of Sydney Union are giving students a unique step up in getting their ideas off the ground.

"An entrepreneurial fervour exists at a global level today," says Randal Leeb-du Toit, Head of Commercial Development at the University of Sydney.

"We want to make sure aspiring entrepreneurs at the University have every possible advantage moving forward into their future careers."

Students have only a few days left to submit business ideas for possible development into commercially viable ventures with the CBA's Unleashing Innovation program, which closes on 30 November.

Development support for ideas under Unleashing Innovation will be provided in a number of categories including Big Data, Mobile, Social and Cloud. Different levels of funding and other support will be provided to successful ideas at each of three stages: seed funding, proof of concept, and a final stage of commercial development.

"CBA's competition is just one of many acknowledgements in the business world of the enormous importance of entrepreneurship and innovation for international organisations. We're trying to front-foot this entrepreneurial spirit by building and nurturing an innovation ecosystem across the University of Sydney," says Leeb-du Toit.

The University of Sydney Union last month launched Incubate, the first start-up development program in Australia and the Asia Pacific region at a university level.

Eight successful students, to be announced at the end of November, will be given $5000 each in seed funding, as well as office space and resources on campus, educational workshops, and a 10- to 12-week mentoring program.

After having been mentored by leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and University of Sydney staff and alumni, the eight winners will have the opportunity to present their finished products to investors and media at a special demonstration day during O-Week in February 2013.

"Great ideas are the bricks and mortar of entrepreneurship, and we've always been struck by how well our students think outside the box," says Leeb-du Toit.

"If Incubate is as successful as we anticipate, we're hoping to roll it out across the University more widely in future."

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