Bond University is accelerating its support of start-ups, with a new entrepreneurial program open to small businesses, new ventures and students to launch next month (May).
The Bond Business Accelerator subject will focus on innovation, providing practical skills for start-ups and existing businesses to commercialise and teach the next generation of leaders to think creatively in a fast-changing global business environment.
The unique 13 week course was piloted over two semesters last year, with a limited intake of six start-ups run by current and past Bond students.
The pilot produced a number of success stories, including Milaana.org – an online platform connecting students with community organisations – which went on to be selected as one of just 64 start-ups globally to compete in the 1776 Challenge Cup in Washington D.C this year.
The Bond Business Accelerator subject will be overseen by a board of top advisors and mentors including iQFunds founder/director Rick Anstey, Silicon Lakes CEO Aaron Birkby, Lutz and Associates principal Steve Lutz, Bond Associate Dean accreditation and international programs Keith Duncan and a representative of Blue Sky Ventures.
It will be headed by Bond University Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Program Director, Dr Baden U’Ren, and Program Manager Tres West – who have each run their own successful start-ups.
Dr U’Ren said the program aimed to help businesses reach the next level and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, as all levels of government placed a growing emphasis on promoting a savvy, start-up culture.
“There is a real opportunity for Australia, Queensland and the Gold Coast to become start-up capitals and there is support from all level of government to see it happen,” he said.
“The time is ripe, with the barriers to starting a business so much lower than they used to be. It is now a very viable option.”
Dr U’Ren said an entrepreneurial approach was increasingly becoming a necessity, whether working for a company or starting one up.
“Employers want people who can think creatively, adapt and make fast-decisions and who are ‘work ready’ – these are skills entrepreneurs possess,” he said.
“At the same time, product life cycles are becoming shorter and technology is propelling us increasingly into a global business landscape, where there are opportunities to start-up a company on the Gold Coast and sell in competition to a business in Mongolia.
“Now, more than ever, you need to be in-tune with what is going on outside your geographic sphere. You need to be more innovative and to keep improving your offering to the market, whether it is a product or service.
“The course will have a focus on the process of commercialisation, from how to approach innovation, customer development, value proposition, marketing and business models to testing.”
Dr U’Ren said the course was tailored to business owners as well as students.
"We would love for successful business owners, who don’t necessarily have a degree and want to engage with a university to take the course,” he said.
A dedicated, creative space has been fitted-out, with an open door policy aimed at encouraging collaboration and idea-sharing among the university community.
A demonstration day and networking event will be held at the end of the course, where students will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a group of investors and business identities, with a cash prize of $5,000 and a two week placement with a Blue Sky portfolio company awarded to the winner.