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Strong demand from women for MBA in Entrepreneurship

22 March 2016

MBA in Entrepreneurship candidates Eleanor Fleming (left) and Chelsea Ramsden

MBA in Entrepreneurship candidates Eleanor Fleming (left) and Chelsea Ramsden, at the start of classes Photo: Lesley Parker

Australia’s Assistant Minister for Innovation, Wyatt Roy, has welcomed the strong showing of women in Australia’s first on-campus MBA in Entrepreneurship (MBAe), which has been launched by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Mr Roy described the program as “deeply exciting”. “If we are going to ensure that generations of Australians have the full potential to seize the exciting opportunities that we are seeing in a changing global economy, we need to ensure that they have a very strong foundation in those entrepreneurial skill sets that will allow them to create the businesses, the products, the services to change the world for the better,” he said by video at the launch.

Mr Roy noted that in the first intake women entrepreneurs accounted for 45 per cent of the class. “It’s vitally important that if we are going to seize these exciting opportunities for the future that we do that by utilising all Australians, not just half of them,” he said. “If you look at the rate of startups that are funded, only 6 per cent currently have female founders. This is something that is vitally important we change as a country.”

Rachel Botsman, author and leading thinker on the sharing economy, said at the launch: “It’s incredibly important to have this program in Australia, to start to change the dialogue around what Australia does and where it sits in the world.”

The new MBAe is the first on-campus MBA in Australia specifically designed for entrepreneurs. It is also unique in being structured as three separate graduate certificates –in commercialisation, entrepreneurship and new venture funding.

The flexible structure of the MBAe allows entrepreneurs and innovators to tailor the program to the skills and tools they need, while continuing to work on their ideas as they study. The entrepreneurs in the program will be invited to develop, test and launch ideas under the guidance of academic experts and industry mentors drawn from Australia and overseas.

Partners in the program include advisory services firm Deloitte. Emerging entrepreneurs will also be connected with a curated network of incubators and accelerators from inside and outside UTS.

'This is something that is vitally
important we change as a country'

“This is a very different approach,” said UTS Business School’s Associate Dean, Business Practice and External Engagement, Associate Professor James Hutchin. “A conventional business education program is about skills acquisition, teaching you how to do something. But when you talk about entrepreneurial education, it’s about teaching you how to be something. It’s about creating the conditions that allow entrepreneurship to emerge.”

The Dean of UTS Business School, Professor Roy Green, said there had been enormous interest in the MBAe, with 68 applications, from which 28 entrepreneurs were selected to take part. The average age of the entrepreneurs is 34, and they come from the technology, fintech, entertainment, not-for-profit, education, retail and government sectors.

Professor Green said the MBA in Entrepreneurship was developed in close collaboration with the startup community but also with the corporate sector. 

“Our MBAe participants come to us not just as potential founders of startups, or as entrepreneurs who are looking for the skills to scale up a business, but also as professionals who want to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the organisations they work inside,” he said. “As well as startups and growth businesses, we need Australian businesses capable of disrupting themselves – before they are disrupted.”

University of Technology Sydney Provost Professor Peter Booth said the MBAe was a program for the times. “The jobs of the future will be very different. In fact we know that 40 per cent - around 5 million Australian jobs - will disappear in the next 10-15 years due to automation.”

Students were increasingly interested in an entrepreneurial path, he said. “A recent piece of research conducted here at UTS revealed that 40 per cent of our current students or recent graduates have either started their own business or are considering a startup or entrepreneurial career path.”

The MBAe is being led by Academic Director Dr Jochen Schweitzer, an expert in strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. He was co-founder of the groundbreaking U.lab interdisciplinary platform for innovation projects and was named Best Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year by the Business Higher Education Round Table in 2014.

The MBAe program is based in the Frank Gehry-designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in Ultimo, which is at the heart of Australia’s startup capital, Sydney. The Ultimo postcode has the highest density of startups in Australia, with more than 52 startups per square kilometre.