unsw startup launch

A group of university students are busy validating their ideas and developing their technology platforms as they gear up to launch their new startups as part of UNSW Innovations’ Startup Launch program.

An evolution of the university’s past Startup Games, the program has shifted to be less of a game and more focused on helping students build and launch a startup in just four week.

The UNSW Innovations team received almost 70 video applications from interested students. Less than half were selected to take part, with those making the cut a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students and alumni specialised in areas ranging from chemical engineering, computer science, business, and art and design.

Some of the startups currently being built include a point-of-care pathogen detection system, a smart lock or remote access device for the elderly, a new logistics service, a ‘reverse real estate’ service to help people sell their homes, and a coffee cup with a twist.

Working every weekend throughout March and between classes, these teams are being mentored by industry experts including Elisa-Marie Dumas of Springboard Enterprises, BlueChilli’s Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, Pasha Rayan of Freelancer.com, and Melissa Ran of China Ambition.

With the goal to launch a startup that will live on beyond the competition, the competing startups will have the chance to win a cash grant from ARC, the university’s student association, and the UNSW Innovations Alliance MVP Grant Fund, as well as access to the university’s FounderLab services, including professional engineers who will help to build their first product.

Each team that chooses to continue with their startup beyond the competition will also qualify for UNSW Innovations’ student entrepreneur development support, including mentoring and access to free services from the organisation’s partners. As such, the Startup Launch program is a key part of UNSW Innovations’ focus on teaching students entrepreneurship by having them put it into practice outside the classroom and collaborate with students not studying business.

Joshua Flannery of UNSW Innovations wrote last year, “As opposed to gaining course credit, students opt-in because they want to develop themselves as entrepreneurs…although some first-time competitors emerge with promising startups, we also see students who come back with different concepts and teams and eventually see success the second or third time around. When we compare these individuals and teams to those who have come strictly from for-credit entrepreneur programs, our cohorts are generally stronger and more motivated, and therefore more willing to persevere.”

The winner of last year’s Startup Games was FoodRunna, a food delivery service leveraging off time-rich but cash-strapped students. The services is essentially a niche AirTasker, recruiting university students to have them wait in line for and deliver food to corporate customers.

Another Startup Games graduate is Forcite Helmet Systems, which builds small modular computing systems tailored for wearable technology such as helmets. Having raised $1 million in seed funding last year, the startup is now looking to raise a further $5 million.

The Startup Launch final is on next week, 31 March. You can register to attend here.

Image: The Startup Launch cohort.

Startup Daily