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Sydney Genesis start-up pitch
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Sydney Genesis StartUp Program

Develop your commercial or social enterprise
Sydney Genesis is the University of Sydney’s cross-faculty start-up program, housed within the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Business School.

Sydney Genesis is available to all students, staff and alumni who are passionate about bringing their ideas to life. Founded in 2008, Genesis has supported more than 1,000 students and alumni to develop their commercial and social enterprises.

Each semester, 20 start-ups are accepted into the program and gain access to masterclasses, mentoring with entrepreneurs and industry experts and pitching opportunities. Teams create a viable business plan, develop a working minimum viable product or prototype and gain market traction. Select teams present their ideas at our Final Pitch Night at the end of the program, where judges award over $20,000 cash and in-kind prizes.

Categories and prizes

Awarded to the enterprise with the most innovative and implementable solution to an environmental or social issue.

This award, generously contributed by our partners at The Sydney Innovation Hub includes:

  • $5000 seed funding
  • Fastrack interview for INCUBATE
  • Ongoing support from the Sydney Innovation Hub.

Awarded to the enterprise that shows the most promising commercialisation of research undertaken at the University of Sydney.

This award, generously contributed by our partners at The Sydney Innovation Hub includes:

  • $5000 seed funding
  • Fastrack interview for INCUBATE
  • Ongoing support from the Sydney Innovation Hub

Awarded to the most viable social enterprise start-up with potential to create positive social impact.

  • $5000 seed funding
  • A free workshop at Academy Xi

Awarded for the enterprise that presents the most innovative, cutting edge, unique business idea that has scalable potential in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • $5000 seed funding
  • Free mentoring and workshop with Brian Dorricott at Meteorical

Application process

Sydney Genesis is open to all students, alumni and staff at the University of Sydney. You can apply as an individual or small team.

Step 1: Build your team

Any student, staff or alumni of USYD can apply solo or engage a team of like-minded individuals. Refer to the program criteria below for team size and eligibility.

Step 2: Apply online

Each Team leader completes an online application (approx. 20 mins). Online applications will appear here when they open again for 2019 in mid-February.

Step 3: Acceptance

20 teams are accepted into the program. Teams will be notified by email within one week of applications closing (dates for 2019 to be confirmed).

  • Start-up ideas are only eligible if the business idea submitted originated from one or more members of the team; the intellectual property (IP) belongs solely to the team members.
  • The program is open to teams that may rely upon IP owned by third parties, such as patented technology developed by companies or Universities. It is not necessary at the time of entry to have negotiated licenses or other agreements to use these ideas.
  • The information submitted will be treated confidentially. Non-disclosure agreements will not be signed with any team. In order to participate in the program, you need to provide complete and reliable information about your idea and your team.
  • Start-ups may change their idea as they progress through the Genesis program, however any major change in the core concept of the initial idea will be reviewed by the Genesis team.
  • At least one member of the start-up must attend all of the compulsory workshop events (workshop evenings 1, 2 and 3 + the practice pitch). It is strongly encouraged that at least one member of the start-up attends Genesis special events. You must attend all of the mentoring meetings (two in total during the program). Attendance at the kick-off night is also mandatory. Please discuss with the Genesis team if you cannot attend a compulsory event.
  • A maximum of 20 start-ups (teams or individuals) will be admitted into the program.
  • Teams enrolled in any other business competition run by the University of Sydney can also enrol in the Genesis program with the same idea.
  • The team leader must be a current student, staff member or alumni of the University of Sydney. The team leader must present at the Final Pitch Night. The other team members can be external to the University.
  • Teams can be any size; you can even enter by yourself. Typical teams are composed of 2-4 people. Students may also be a member of multiple teams but only the team leader of one team.
  • Teams can add or remove people throughout the program; however, the team leader must always be a student, staff or alumni of the University of Sydney. Any changes in the composition of your team needs to be advised to the Sydney Genesis team. If you add or remove a team member during the program, a new team agreement must be completed.
  • Please note that cash prize payments are made in one payment to your nominated team leader. It is then up to them to distribute any winnings as agreed within the team.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, you can enter more than one idea. If you do that with the same team, then you should discuss with your team mentor which idea is best to pursue after you attend some initial workshops.

If you enter more than one idea under different teams, you can still be part of both groups until the end of the program; however, you can only be the team leader of one team.

Yes, you still can apply. We require at least one member of your team to be present at all compulsory events (approximately five events).

If you are selected as a Genesis finalist, you must present your idea at the Final Pitch Night.

Yes, you can enter by yourself; teams can be of any size. However, teams are typically composed of two to four people. You can still make changes in your team during the workshops phase; however, any changes made after your original team agreement will require a revised signed team agreement (that is, you must have a signed team agreement in place that corresponds to your current team).

Yes. In fact, Sydney Genesis is open to anyone including undergraduates, postgraduates, post doctorates, lecturers, alumni and staff. Young innovators and entrepreneurs not currently enrolled at the University are also encouraged to apply, but you must have at least one person from the University of Sydney (student, alumni or staff) on your team.

Team leaders must be a current student, alumni or staff member of the University of Sydney. Other team members can be external to the University.

Sydney Genesis is open to entrants from any industry. It doesn't matter if you're developing a new piece of technology to sell globally or a new local retail concept. If you've got an idea you want to bring to life, we want you to enter! That said, Genesis does maintain a strong focus on businesses that are scalable in Asia, as we believe any successful Australian startup needs to be successful in an Asian context. The judges will, however, base their decisions on the strength of your idea, business plan and pitch.

Yes! Successful entrants in Sydney Genesis are at the cutting edge of innovation. Often this means HDR students. If you've been wondering how to commercialise your research, entering Sydney Genesis will provide you with valuable experience and connections.

Become a mentor or supporter

We are always looking for mentors and supporters to help our students start and grow their business ideas.

If you have relevant industry experience in areas such as business, strategy and culture, design thinking and ideation, marketing, investment, funding and finance, business law, social entrepreneurship and would like to share it with our teams, please contact us.

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