Fifteen early-stage startups manned by students from four universities will pitch at the National Demo Day for the INCUBATE program during a Google for Entrepreneurs event today.
The INCUBATE program was launched at the University of Sydney and received financial and in-kind support from Google Australia to roll out to three universities: Curtin University in Western Australia, Bond University on the Gold Coast and the University of Adelaide.
Students in the program receive 11 weeks of co-working space, mentoring, workshops and $5000.
Program manager James Alexander told StartupSmart the graduating companies were expected to be ready for seed investment, and either be launching a product or already have one in the market.
He adds the small cohorts have minimised the dropout rate. One team at Bond University and two at Sydney University didn’t finish the program.
“Next time we run this, we’re going to have a closer focus on innovation accountability through more rigorous weekly and monthly milestones,” Alexander says.
INCUBATE will be releasing a report in the coming months with the key lessons they’ve learned running the program in multiple universities. Alexander says they’ve learned a lot about setting achievable but challenging goals for early stage companies.
Learning from the network effects of the national program was always part of the plan.
As the rollout began, Alexander told StartupSmart they hoped the program would create a national network of students and entrepreneurs to drive a culture of innovation.
“That’s where the potential is: to encourage more start-ups to launch from campus. There is a big gap there at the moment, with too many students leaving universities without being clued up on the start-up scene and how to get going,” Alexander says.