Scaling student entrepreneurship at UTS
Professor Margaret Maile Petty gives an update on the UTS approach to entrepreneurship education, and how this goes hand in hand with sparking the next generation of startup founders and business disruptors.
Late last year, UTS stepped up its commitment to student entrepreneurship, setting out an ambitious and transformative agenda to scale activity across the university.
My team in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit have led this charge, aiming to bring entrepreneurship opportunities to the more than 40% of our students who have told us they want the skills and ability to create their own career pathways when they graduate. This could mean founding or joining a startup, or leading change within an organisation or profession.
We have taken this feedback on board and we intend to meet and hopefully exceed expectations, with a plan to reach 50% of UTS students with entrepreneurial experiences and support within the next five years. We have put a lot of thought into how to best provide this level of support, while ensuring excellence and sustainability—much like a startup looking to scale to meet growing demand, without compromising the product or experience.
Many of you will have heard about or participated in our Hatchery programs, which over the past few years have served as amazing vehicles for developing student entrepreneurs and startups. They have been tremendously successful at providing a runway for hundreds of students to launch an exciting professional pathway. But despite our passion for the Hatchery programs, we had to ask ourselves one really tough question – how can we go from reaching hundreds, to thousands?
Evolution paving the way for growth
We quickly realised that such exponential growth required a significant recalibration of our entrepreneurship programs - and that the Hatchery would need to evolve to create a truly fit for purpose vehicle for supporting student entrepreneurship across the whole university.
That vehicle is UTS Startups, which has in its very foundations the Hatchery ethos and core community values: recognition of the importance of inclusion, gender and cultural equity, and social impact in entrepreneurship at UTS.
The scaling of our programs and opportunities through UTS Startups will ensure that we can engage widely across the diversity and richness of our undergraduate and postgraduate student cohorts, creating tremendous potential for broad impact.
So what is UTS Startups?
Under the leadership of our new Director of Entrepreneurship, Murray Hurps, UTS Startups is a student community focused on engaging, inspiring and connecting students to entrepreneurship opportunities, education, activities and support – from that first idea to startup founder.
We are committed to providing flexible and tailored support to students who want to translate their passion for entrepreneurship into a founder journey. We’re offering one-on-one mentorship and guidance, and connecting to and leveraging support from the university and the startup ecosystem, including potential co-founders, customers, investors, subject matter experts and talent. We see this new, lean model as being crucial to scaling not only student entrepreneurship but also the number of student startups we can nurture and launch.
UTS Startups, as a university-wide program and student community is organised loosely into three stages: engage, inspire, and connect.
This includes first touch activities and forums such as entrepreneurship bootcamps, hackathons, startup weekends, and other collaborative, ‘no experience required’ events, plus free introductory entrepreneurship education resources via UTS Open. The aim is to engage every UTS student at every level.
For those keen to learn more, we’ll be working to inspire students to take the next step. This could be taking part in co-curricular opportunities such as pitch nights, fireside chats and workshops focused on developing and refining entrepreneurial skillsets.
This also includes for-credit coursework options, plus our startup internships program, offering that real-world experience to bridge the gap between learning about entrepreneurship and doing it.
Students who are ready to create their own startup can then formally join the UTS Startups community. Student founders will be connected to a wealth of support within a dynamic, rapidly growing community, as well as have access to co-working space, regular check-ins with our mentoring team, a range of professional services, and seed funding opportunities.
So whether our students want to create their own startup, work for one, or develop entrepreneurial muscle for their future career – UTS Startups and our Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs and opportunities will prepare them for the jobs of the future, now. We believe the jobs of the future will be shaped and created through the ingenuity and innovation of our graduates and what we’re offering is designed to deliver on that promise.
To keep up to date with the exciting array of entrepreneurial opportunities on offer at UTS, both co-curricular and curricular, visit entrepreneurship.uts.edu.au.
Want to take the next step as a startup founder? We’d be delighted to welcome you to startups.uts.edu.au.
If you want to know more, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!