UTS has teamed up with Australian start-up and innovation group BlueChilli to launch SheStarts – a national accelerator program and campaign to turbocharge female leadership in the start-up economy.
The program is offering ten women $100,000 each in pre-seed capital and a spot in the SheStarts accelerator backed by corporate diversity champions including foundation partners ANZ, MYOB and Sunsuper, with UTS as higher education partner.
A documentary web-series will capture the founders' journeys, as part of a multi-media campaign to inspire women and girls across the country to consider a future in tech and entrepreneurship.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said, "At UTS we have always had innovation at the core of everything we do, be it teaching and learning, research or engagement. Given that, plus our strong commitment to social justice and recognition of the transformative power of education, the SheStarts program is a perfect fit for us.
"Australia has a real opportunity to lead innovation, benefiting all Australians and supporting a strong startup ecosystem. Empowering women with the confidence and skills to create and lead their own businesses is vital to ensuring Australian success.
"SheStarts epitomises the type of collaboration between industry and universities that can drive positive, lasting change."
SheStarts Director, BlueChilli Head of Diversity and Impact Nicola Hazell, said the program aims to change the face of the startup economy.
"Women make up more than 50 per cent of our population. Yet in the startup ecosystem - where the most innovative, high potential businesses of the future are being created - women remain grossly underrepresented," Ms Hazell said.
"Our startup ecosystem is undergoing major growth as both government and the corporate sector have recognised the potential to build an innovation-led economy. But we are missing a big part of this economic opportunity, and risk increasing gender inequality if we don't act now.
"Women-led companies drive three times the returns of companies predominantly led by men. What's more, female CEOs are leading the push for inclusive leadership, creating companies where all staff can thrive and drive innovation.
"But in Australia, reports indicate women represent between 14 per cent and 24 per cent of startup founders, and when you look at those attracting investment, the stats are as low as 4 per cent. While the data may be somewhat patchy, the message is consistent - women are missing out.
"In order to drive the economic results Australia wants and harness the value of diverse startup teams, we need to boost female leadership and back the ideas of women entrepreneurs with the funding and tech support to get them off the ground."
A national talent search to uncover the best tech start-up ideas from women is now underway. As the official higher education partner for SheStarts, UTS wants to encourage as many female students and alumni as possible to apply. Applications can be made online and close Monday 31 October.
Two events are planned to support UTS SheStarts applicants:
Wednesday 26 October, 6-9pm
Lean Canvas workshop at the UTS Hatchery – to assist applicants in framing their ideas to make a strong application. Visit this page to register.
The ten women selected for SheStarts will each receive:
- $100,000 pre-seed capital
- Placement in the SheStarts accelerator program, which will run from January to June 2017 and culminate in an immersion experience in Silicon Valley hosted by Google
- A world-class team of startup advisors and mentors, guiding them through the startup journey
- Access to in-house product managers, developers and designers to help non-technical founders build high-quality tech products
- Space in the BlueChilli incubators in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne
- Access to leading corporate partners offering specialist insights and ready-made opportunities for customer testing and distribution at launch
- Introductions & presentations to investors and venture capital partners when raising growth capital