Report calls for universities to play a key role in growth of entrepreneurship and startups

The Hatchery space in UTS's Building 15, picture by Shane Lo

The Hatchery space in UTS's Building 15, picture by Shane Lo

In summary: 
  • The Crossroads report, which makes key recommendations for the growth of the Australian startup industry, and is supported by UTS, has just been released
  • This year's report recognises the important role universities can play in exposing large numbers of students to startups and entrepreneurship programs

"Every young person in the 80s wanted to be a rock star, and today, young people want to be entrepreneurs."

So writes career-strategy consultant and former UTS Career Development Manager Janet Matta in the 2016 Crossroads report published by non-profit group StartupAUS and supported by UTS.

Metta points out that while many students are attracted by the desire for self-determination, freedom and deriving meaning from their work that entrepreneurship offers, there are still a number of barriers, including access to mentors and financial support while starting a venture.

The report, written by Director of Spike Innovation Colin Kinner, on behalf of the national tech startup community, sets out an action plan for growth and maturation of the Australian startup ecosystem, identifying key policy areas that require government intervention and recommending specific actions that should be taken to accelerate the growth of the tech sector.  

Kinner, who spoke at UTS this year on enabling entrepreneurship, points out that Australia has the necessary "raw ingredients to become a major technology player globally" but that a longitudinal approach to decision making is needed rather than a "short-term sugar hit."

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs speaking at this week's Hatchery+ Demo Day, picture by Kate Disher-Quill UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs speaking at this week's Hatchery+ Demo Day, picture by Kate Disher-Quill

Of particular interest to the education sector this year is the recommendation for a radical re-assessment of school and university curricula at all levels. It calls for comprehensive entrepreneurship programs to be implemented in universities to expose large numbers of students to startups and entrepreneurship.

UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs welcomes the recommendation and says that it marks a shift in thinking from entrepreneurship existing outside the realm of higher education and a confidence in the role universities can play.

The report recognises the opportunity within universities to expose large numbers of students to startups and entrepreneurship.

With programs like the new MBA in entrepreneurship, the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation and the Hatchery and Hatchery+ programs, UTS is well on its way.

Professor Brungs says that key to UTS's success is also the university's ability to reach out and partner with the entrepreneurial community.

"Innovation walks on two legs," he says. "The close proximity and active engagement of vibrant universities and a critical mass of entrepreneurial enterprises is the single key success factor in successful entrepreneurship precincts around the world.

"Based as we are in the vibrant startup hub of Ultimo-Pyrmont, we aim to be a key player in the emergence of Sydney’s, and Australia's, innovation and entrepreneurship story."

The Crossroads report can be downloaded here.

Watch Colin Kinner speak at the UTSpeaks: Shapeshifters – Enabling Entrepreneurs event held on 6 September: