Joshua Flannery, the student enterprise manager at the University of New South Wales’s entrepreneurial education hub NewSouth Innovations, has been accepted into Berkeley’s Lean Launchpad program, an incubator accelerator program run by lean start-up methodology guru Steve Blank.
The team at NewSouth Innovations is working with just over 100 student start-up projects, five of which raised capital in 2013.
Flannery told StartupSmart he was excited to be joining 19 other incubator and accelerator programs to discover new ideas and approaches.
“I want to see how far away we are from best practice in the US. I’m not assuming that everything they’re doing over there will apply to what we’re doing, but I’m excited about adapting what we learn to the situation here,” Flannery says.
The intensive two-day workshop comes at the perfect time for Flannery and NewSouth Innovations, who are approaching 2014 as their ramp up year for the launch of a more comprehensive entrepreneurial support program in 2015.
“Our last year when we launched the student entrepreneurial advisory service it was all about testing what works,” Flannery says. “We’re pulling out the best bits of the program and scaling it up in 2014.”
The NewSouth Innovations approach so far has been mostly focused on pre-incubation services. While the centre does work with the usual start-up suspects, students from the computer science and business faculties, Flannery adds they’re also seeing a wide range of students from across the university, especially industrial design.
“There is no point in repeating what’s already working well off campus. The gap we see in the market for universities the disconnect between the vast bulk of students who aren’t ready for the existing incubators and accelerators. We focus on getting them to the point where they can test idea and put a team together,” Flannery says.
He will also the trip as an opportunity to engage UNSW alumni who are currently running start-ups in Silicon Valley, and work out ways to tap into their expertise and networks for current students.
Flannery adds the goal isn’t to replicate Silicon Valley, a goal he sees as a distraction.
“There is a lot of talk about making Sydney parallel to Silicon Valley, but that shouldn’t be the goal. We have our own assets, geographical goals and restrictions. So let’s do something that’s realistic for us, but also more excitingly, let’s just kill it in our own way as Australia.”