The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has become the first tertiary institution to implement the federal government’s accredited Startup Year program for recent university graduates.
Federal industry and science minister Ed Husic confirmed plans for the HECS-style loans program, an election promise designed to back university students to launch their own startups ideas, late last year.
Startup Year will provide up to 2000 loans annually to to participate in uni-based incubator or accelerator programs.
The Startup-HELP loan, worth $12,720, is available for final-year undergraduate students post-graduates and those who completed their studies within the last three years.
“We want our next generation of businesses to grow from the ideas and energy of young Australians. And we want Startup Year to help make that happen,” Husic said at the time.
But the roll out, like many of the Albanese government’s policies involving startups, has been sluggish. Legislation approving the plan was passed in mid-2023, with the Opposition living up to its name, and the program is only due to hit full speed in 2025, when the next federal election rolls around.
UNSW will be part of an initial trial, and the first of more than a dozen universities expressing interest in being part of the concept. The government is expected to reveal who else is involved before the end of the year. Its implementation passes from Husic to education minister Jason Clare.
UNSW director of entrepreneurship David Burt said he hopes to offer up to 100 spots in their pilot program next year.
The university is currently accepting expressions of interest for the selection process, with the program running over three terms starting in late May, 2024.
“We already have the infrastructure, experts and resources to launch Startup Year quickly and we’re incredibly excited to be helping even more founders commence their startup journey,” he said.
“The UNSW Startup Year program is an extraordinary 12-month incubator program designed to support aspiring founders launch and accelerate their ideas. It provides a unique pathway for recent graduates with aspirations to launch and grow their ideas.”
Across the year, students will learn to develop founder skills, build valuable connections, get access to world-class resources and at the end of the program will have the opportunity to pitch for investment.
The UNSW Startup Year program will be delivered in collaboration with The Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) and covering topics such as startup funding, legal, networking, mentorship, prototyping, product building, customer validation, sales and marketing. It’s scheduled to start in 2024 with applications open now.
Burt said UNSW is also looking to increase the level of philanthropically-funded scholarships it offers, reflecting the university’s commitment to accessibility and eliminating financial barriers to quality entrepreneurship support.
“In the initial stages, UNSW plans to make the program more accessible through scholarships and government loans,” he said.
UNSW is also offering interested graduates a Startup Year Bootcamp on December 11-12. It’s a two-day immersive experience crafted to equip individuals for the upcoming year-long program.
Additional bootcamps will be offered in late January and February. Details are here.
Burt said that while it’s not mandatory for a Startup Year application, the program is tailored to help graduates prepare for selection.
More information and to express interest in the Startup Year program is available at UNSW Founders – Startup Year.