A PEER-TO-PEER designer clothing rental network and an online hub for custom-built artificial intelligence algorithms are among 10 promising startups chosen to take part in this year’s SPARK Deakin Accelerator program.

Each team, selected from SPARK’s largest applicant pool in its three year history, will receive $10,000 seed funding to turn their ideas into reality, as well as intensive training from internationally-renowned experts, one-on-one mentorship, and access to a dedicated co-working space at Deakin University’s Melbourne corporate centre.

The teams include LendMyTrend, which allows users to access high-end fashion and monetise their wardrobe by pairing lenders and renters across Australia, and Aiii.io, a platform for businesses and organisations to find, test and implement AI algorithms capable of language processing and machine learning, connecting users with developers to design custom solutions.

SPARK program manager Daizy Maan said the program was one of the only university-led startup incubators in Australia to offer free in-house legal guidance and advice for participants, through clinics operated by Deakin Law School. 

Ms Maan said one of the aims of SPARK was to support more women into the startup market, to close the current gender gap within the industry.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to support such a strong and diverse cohort of teams for SPARK Deakin’s 2018 Accelerator program,” Ms Maan said.

“This year’s teams are talented entrepreneurs who have come to us with unique selling propositions and innovative solutions to everyday problems, eager to compete and set themselves apart.”

The teams were put to the test before selection in a four day pre-Accelerator intensive facilitated by US-based mentor Saba Karim, a Deakin alumnus and global head of ‘pipeline’[ at Techstars; and Nick Myers, managing director of Huntington Angels, a Boston firm that aims to grow the university venture community by connecting startups with investors and venture capital firms.

The teams were also given the opportunity to get advice and swap ideas with expert representatives from Airbnb and venture-backed startup Airmada.

Mr Karim, who is also the co-founder of Acquisitionly, said he fell in love with the startup ecosystem while attending California’s Stanford University.

“I originally pursued opportunities in the US as the startup scene was super young in Australia then, but it’s exciting to be back, and to see how far it’s come and how much Deakin and Melbourne is investing in first time founders,” Mr Karim said.

Ms Maan said she hoped SPARK in 2018 could inspire success in the way past rounds had, such as with the team behind Vollie, a remote volunteering platform to pair skilled volunteers with worthy causes, co-founded by Tanya Dontas and Matthew Boyd.

With the help of SPARK Deakin, Vollie has expanded to facilitate 329 projects and provide 6028 volunteer hours for a total volunteer value of almost $300,000.

Vollie also won the Australian Not-For-Profit Technology awards Best SME Connecting the Community award for 2017, and was recently presented with the 2018 NAB Nexus Collaborator Award and $10,000 funding for a collaborative project with Kenyan youth advocacy group, Youth on the Move.

SPARK Deakin regularly hosts founder events, Q-and-A sessions and networking functions for budding entrepreneurs to meet like-minded problem solvers, connect with motivated change makers, and offer support regardless of where they are on their startup journey.

www.sparkdeakin.com

The 10 teams selected for SPARK Deakin’s 2018 Accelerator:

Aiii.io – An AI algorithm marketplace that delivers instant algorithmic results for your apps.

CycleCups – Returnable, reusable, takeaway cups reducing landfill by displacing disposable cups.

DifAbility – Online training for parents supporting children with autism.

Empowering Parents – A subscription-based model providing education, insight and resources for parents and people caring for children.

KeySquirrel – A 24/7 key delivery and verification service for guests of holiday rental hosts.

LendMyTrend – A peer-to-peer designer clothing rental platform.

Netik Quick Clinic – Annual healthcare subscriptions in India delivering telemedicine, medications and diagnostics.

Ruwi's Cakes – An online 3D cake designing platform that makes it easy to create custom cakes.

STAFFAH – An online platform taking the pain out of hospitality recruitment.

Treiner – An online marketplace connecting football players with coaches and support staff.

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THE UNIVERSITY of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and the principal venture capital fund for the CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures, have entered a new partnership destined to drive innovation and entrepreneurship at UNSW to new heights.

UNSW will become the first university in the world to roll out Venture on Campus, a new entrepreneurship and innovation program designed by Main Sequence Ventures for research-oriented organisations and universities.

Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, said streamlining communication between researchers, student entrepreneurs, early-stage startups, and industry partners would provide closer connectivity and promote greater engagement between researchers and the investment community to share skills, expertise, ideas and resources. 

UNSW’s Division of Enterprise director of entrepreneurship, Elizabeth Eastland said that by equipping staff, students, and researchers with the knowledge and industry-level connections that the Venture on Campus partnership provided, UNSW would be actively powering the next wave of economic growth that would emerge from disruptive startups and research projects.

“With the appointment of someone with the stature of Jennifer Zanich, who has recently taken up the position as head of UNSW Entrepreneurship’s Ecosystem and Partnerships, we are clearly signalling we intend to engage deeply with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Australia and globally, and this partnership with Main Sequence Ventures is a prime example of this,” Dr Eastland said.

Ms Zanich said the Venture on Campus partnership tapped into UNSW’s ambition to increase the scale of university-led innovation globally via the exchange of knowledge, while heavily fostering a research, educational, and commercial culture that embraces inclusion, diversity of thought, and entrepreneurship for both industry, staff, and students.

“Our programs and partnerships are purposefully designed to instil in students and staff the skills and resilience they need to succeed in the 21st century global workplace,” Ms Zanich said.

Venture on Campus will also deliver, via six modules, a custom-made program that will give UNSW researchers and startups insights into the venture capital mindset and the skills required to navigate it, while also providing opportunities for funding and mentorship.

Promoting the Venture on Campus initiative, Main Sequence Ventures’ Mr Morle said, “Future industries are being born inside the nation's universities, and entrepreneur programs like the UNSW Founders program are helping to make this the frictionless career path it should be.

“Scientists create companies; science creates industries; industries create the jobs of the future.”

www.unsw.edu.au

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QUT staged its second Bootcamp in association with US university MIT in February, focusing on entrepreneurship in the field of sustainability.

More than 130 participants from 39 countries took part in the MIT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: Future of Sustainability at QUT’s Brisbane  Gardens Point campus from February 10-16 in partnership with Advance Queensland. 

The focus was on coming up with entrepreneurial real-world answers to the most pressing environmental issues of the era including climate change, carbon footprint, mine site rehabilitation, water usage and waste reduction, through a series of sustainability challenges.

Speakers and mentors at the event included MIT professor Bill Aulet who directs the Martin Trust Centre for MIT Entrepreneurship; entrepreneur Jocko Willink a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer and author of  the New York Times bestselling book Extreme Ownership; and Australian entrepreneur and managing director of Super Butcher, Susan McDonald.

It is the second year in a row MIT Bootcamps has chosen Queensland to deliver its entrepreneurship program, in partnership with Advance Queensland.

Prof. Bill Aulet returned to Australia to lead the teaching of disciplined entrepreneurship to this year’s crop of Bootcamp recruits. At last year’s event he said entrepreneurship attracted those who had “a spirit of a pirate” but cautioned successful entrepreneurship “needs the discipline of a Navy SEAL”. 

Making real that advice, Prof. Aulet invited decorated retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink to join the 2018 Bootcamp as a special motivational coach.

Leading industrial and resources companies have taken a keen interest in the event by setting specific challenges for Bootcamp participants to tackle.

These included challenges about water usage, rehabilitation of mining sites, reducing waste and energy efficiency.
Prof. aulet said solutions to those major challenges must involve clear business plans, ready for scale up and be pitched to leading investors by the week’s end.

Some of the participants got an early start to the challenges being set by travelling to the Great Barrier Reef’s Lady Elliot Island, where they were encouraged to think and plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of industries important to Queensland’s economy.

The coral cay at the southern tip of the reef is located in the Marine National Park ‘green zone’ that protects the reef’s biodiversity.

While there, they met Lady Elliot's managing director Peter Gash who described how the island has been transformed from a mine site to a sustainable tourism venture.

The bootcamp was also the first major event for QUT’s new vice-chancellor, Margaret Sheil who met with MIT officials. 

Queensland Minister for Innovation, Kate Jones said, “This is a world-class event, as proven by the success of the inaugural Brisbane MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp last year which attracted 120 participants from 35 countries. With events like these being hosted in Queensland we continue to build our position as one of Australia’s most innovative states.”

www.qut.edu.au

www.advance.qld.gov.au

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TORRENS University Australia – part of the global Laureate group of universities – is seeing success from its revitalisation of certain course areas that are showing strong jobs growth.

In mid-2017, Torrens University Australia revealed innovative study programs in Sports Management, Health, Design and Hospitality.

The programs were developed to prepare students for jobs in industries which are expected to perform well in the years to come, according to the university’s extensive research.

“At a time when young people are making plans for their professional futures, it’s critical they analyse potential study programs that will lead to genuine, relevant employment opportunities upon graduation,” Torrens University Australia vice chancellor Justin Beilby said. 

“All of the programs offered by Torrens University Australia have been meticulously researched to ensure there is strong evidence indicating there will likely be demand for professionals in the industry and its various occupations for many years to come.

Professor Beilby said Sports Management, Health, Design and Hospitality were industry sectors set to enjoy employment growth in coming years – “which is the starting point from which all Torrens programs are developed”.

HEALTH

Covering a broad spectrum ranging from health and welfare services to caring for the ageing and disabled, Professor Beilby suggested there would be plenty of scope for employment in health-related professions in the years to come.

“Qualified students will be able to contribute to preventing and controlling disease, develop sensitive policies to care for and accommodate our ageing population and those with disabilities,” he said.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics underlines this trend, with the healthcare sector called out as a key driver of jobs growth, currently employing 1.6 million Australians – or 14 percent of the national workforce. The ABS noted there were 366,000 more jobs in Australia’s healthcare sector today than back in 2010, with analysts forecasting an additional 243,000 jobs will be added over the next few years on the back of Australia’s ageing population and the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Prof. Beilby said government data predicted health and welfare services professionals would number 23,000 by 2020, up from 19,000 last year. IBISWorld research anticipated 4.4 percent annual growth in the aged care services industry in the five years to 2022, adding more than 20,000 jobs and estimating an exceptional 10.1 percent annual growth for the retirement village sector.

Employment in the personal welfare services field, incorporating disability services, was tipped to grow from 178,000 in 2017 to more than 200,000 by mid-2022.

“With compelling data demonstrating the potential of these growth industries for our graduates, some fuelled partly by growth in the workforce funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an ageing population, it’s clear demand for specialised professionals in these areas will remain high for the foreseeable future,” Prof. Beilbysaid.

“At Torrens we’ve developed several targeted programs to equip students to address pressing issues in each of these fields.

“Our Bachelor of Applied Public Health focuses upon developing and managing public health policy and preventing and controlling disease – essential skills for those interested in working in public health administration, NGOs, private health care providers and overseas aid organisations; while our Bachelor of Human Services (Ageing) and Bachelor of Human Services (Disability) aim to meet the needs of leaders, planners and practitioners in the human services community keen to tackle the challenges of caring for an ageing population and improving the experience of those with a disability,” Prof. Beilby said. 

Torrens University Australia also recently established the Torrens Centre of Positive Ageing and Wellbeing. The centre aims to be a leader in the field of positive ageing by addressing the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population and by collaborating more closely with aged care communities and service providers.

The centre will conduct its own research and aims to improve social justice and wellbeing, including improved health outcomes, stringent governance and quality controls, economic prosperity and international development.

For those already working in the industry, Torrens offers postgraduate programs in Public Health and Human Services Management.

Torrens University Australia is a member of the peak national organisation representing public health in universities, the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australia (CAPHIA). In addition to this, the pioneering Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU), which collates and graphically represents health and other lifestyle data, also calls Torrens home. This means students have access to leading data to use freely in research, study, planning, teaching, policy-making, communications and conversation.

SPORTS MANAGEMENT

Sports administrative services will enjoy annual jobs growth of 4.9 percent in 2019-20, according to business analysts IBISWorld, with roles ranging from negotiating broadcast rights and brokering sponsorship deals to managing member services and becoming involved with team management.

Similarly, the Department of Employment foresees strong sports-related growth with the number of people working in the amusement, fitness and sports centre management category tipped to double to 18,000 between 2012 and 2020.

“The Bachelor of Business-Sports Management at Torrens University Australia teaches students to identify business opportunities for sports organisations, analyse the role of professional sport in society, consider sports’ impact on developing community, and examine the impact of governing bodies on sports regulation,” Prof. Beilby said. 

“Preparing them for careers in professional sports team management, sports event marketing and management or planning and running high-level sporting facilities.”

For those already working in the industry, Torrens offers a MBA in Sports Administration in partnership with Real Madrid Graduate School – a program that has seen strong uptake from a broad range of existing professionals since it was launched in July 2015.

HOSPITALITY

ABS data showed accommodation and hospitality as two of the industries enjoying the fastest rate of jobs growth in 2017. Each segment added 40,000 jobs in the year to May 2017.

Statistics from the Department of Employment indicate excellent prospects for hotel, conference and event management professionals, with hotel managers already enjoying 16.5 percent employment growth in the five years to 2015, while employment numbers in the conference and event management field are predicted to reach 25,400 by 2020, up from 13,500 in 2005.

The luxury hotel and serviced apartment sectors have also recorded solid annualised growth on the back of strong demand from foreign tourists, especially Chinese visitors.

“Torrens University Australia has developed a range of hospitality-related programs to target skills gaps in the sector, including the Bachelor of Business (International Event Management) and Bachelor of Business (International Hotel and Resort Management) at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS), and the Bachelor of Business (Event Management) at APM College of Business and Communication,” Prof. Beilby said.

“From hotel and resort managers to guest services professionals, event coordinators and conference managers, our hospitality programs offer extensive, and often paid, professional work placements to help our graduates secure those sought-after jobs as soon as they complete their studies – if not before,” Prof. Beilby said.

“For those already working in the industry, Torrens offers postgraduate programs in International Hotel Management and Global Business Management. The Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School at Torrens University Australia has an enviable reputation in the hospitality industry.

“Particularly, the school’s industry partnerships lead the field, counting Accor, Four Seasons and Sofitel among its partners,” he said.

“In 2016  the careers team sourced over 750 industry placements for students in Australia and around the world, in part contributing to the school’s superb employability record: 70 percent of BMIHMS students obtain jobs prior to graduation and 95 percent within three months of graduation.

DESIGN

Technology-related design fields are likely to enjoy sustained jobs – and revenue – growth in coming years as industry continues to seek fresh ways to harness technology, “especially the mobile variety” Prof. Beilby said.

According to IBISWorld data, software publishers will enjoy eight percent annual revenue growth over the next five years, computer system design services will grow by 3.9 percent per year, while smartphone app developers will experience accelerated growth of 10.6 percent in the years to 2022.

“Our Bachelor of Software Engineering (Game Programming) and Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art) programs at Media Design School at Torrens University Australia have been specially developed to equip student with the skills they need to become specialist software engineers and game developers across platforms including online, mobile and console environments,” Prof. Beilby said.

“We’ve partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s PlayStation First Academic Development Program to enable program students to develop games for the iconic PlayStation, and to collaborate with fellow programmers and game artists to take commercially viable game concepts from the drawing board through to live prototype stage, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to crafting programs based around hands-on learning and developing students with the real-world skills employers seek – before they graduate.”

For those already working in the industry, Torrens offers postgraduate programs in Design, and UX and Web Design. The Bachelor of Software Engineering (Game Programming) and Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art) programs at Media Design School at Torrens University Australia have been developed in conjunction with New Zealand’s most awarded provider of digital and creative technology programs of study.

Media Design School gained additional international recognition in 2016 when the school was ranked by The Rookies as the world’s top tertiary provider for both graphic design and photography by a panel of internationally renowned judges, beating 479 other schools from 77 countries for top honours.

Torrens University’s campuses are in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Each location is led by a team of research- and career-oriented academic staff who, combined with a carefully selected group of global industry partners, help students to bridge the gap between study and work, Prof. Beilby said.

Torrens University Australia is part of the global Laureate International Universities network, with more than a million students at 70 institutions in 25 countries.

www.torrens.edu.au

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QUEENSLAND’s resources sector is laying claim to powering jobs growth across the state, using Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing an increase of close to 10,000 jobs in the February quarter as evidence.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the number of jobs created in just one quarter was more than the number of athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games. 

“Over the coming days around 6,600 athletes from around the world will settle into the official Games village for two weeks. However, 9,095 resources sector jobs have been created which have the potential to be lifetime careers,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Queensland Minister for Employment, Shannon Fentiman said the latest ABS figures "show we are right on track with our commitment to more jobs for Queensland".

“This is fantastic news for Queensland and it’s pleasing to see the fast growing resource sector is providing more jobs for the regions," Ms Fentiman said.

“Since the Palaszczuk Government was elected we have worked with business and industry to create more than 160,300 new jobs in Queensland.”

QRC's Mr Macfarlane said 'on the podium for jobs growth' was "gold for resources, up 16 percent, silver for manufacturing with 14 percent and bronze for wholesale trade rising 8 percent.

“Most resources sector careers are highly paid and highly skilled and this data again demonstrates the sectors regional reach, with more than 85 percent of the jobs outside south-east Queensland,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Resources belong to all Queenslanders and these new jobs lift our common wealth.”

The ABS quarterly labour force data showed:

  • Exploration and mining support services jobs up 63 percent
  • Coal jobs up 23 percent
  • Metal jobs fell 15 percent but still up 98 percent over the 12 months.
  • Oil and gas jobs rose 3 percent and up 61 percent over the 12 months.

Employment growth in the sector is leading to greater diversity. Indigenous employment in the Queensland resources sector has outstripped growth across the total resources sector workforce, doubling in 10years, the ABS figures showed.

“In 2006, Indigenous people comprised 3 percent of the State’s workforce in resources, whereas in 2016, it had grown to 4 percent. Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4 percent which places the resources sector as one of the few industries with a genuine representation.” Mr Macfarlane said.

The sector now provides one in every $6 in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 16,400 businesses across the State – with almost 7000 businesses in the Greater Brisbane region – all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass, acco5rding to the QRC.

Resources jobs in Queensland this financial year include:

  • New coal leases for Stanmore Coal – 210 jobs
  • Santos to invest $900m in gas developments – 400 construction jobs
  • New Century Resources and Santos gas supply deal – 240 jobs
  • BMA apprentices start work in central Queensland – 40 jobs
  • Hastings Deering apprentices – 48 jobs
  • Rio Tinto’s Indigenous workforce across Cape York – reaches 574 jobs
  • Batchfire Callide – 450 jobs
  • Metallica Minerals Bauxite Project – 26 jobs
  • Glencore’s Lady Loretta restart – 250 jobs
  • Glencore Copper – 200 jobs
  • Arrow and Shell’s QCLNG sales agreement – 1000 jobs
  • Senex wins petroleum tender – 150 jobs.

www.qrc.org.au

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NEWS CORP Australia and cloud accounting software group Xero, have produced a six-part podcast series – unearthing and discussing the biggest pain points faced today by Australia’s 2.1 million small-to-medium businesses (SMEs) – to help them find pathways to success.

With the survival rates of small businesses reported as being just two in three, News Corp and Xero decided to partner together to improve these statistics.

This is the first time podcast content is being driven by the News Corp Australia umbrella brand, supported by all metro mastheads, The Australian, news.com.au and News Xtend.

Hosted by Lauren Moloney of News Corp’s SME digital marketing solutions division, News Xtend, the Mentor Next Door podcast series, addresses the key challenges in running a small business.  

Ms Moloney said small businesses faced common challenges: struggling to find the time to work on, not in the business; managing cash flow; and how to attract and retain customers.

“We decided to partner with Xero to deliver content that would address key pressure points from experienced business owners,” Ms Moloney said.

“I’ve been working one-on-one with small business owners for years helping them build their brands and reach their goals with creative digital marketing solutions and I know how important it is for small businesses to continue learning and evolving.

“Together with Xero, we saw a gap in the market to provide valuable business tips by utilising mentor and mentee talent through the medium of podcasts.

“Now, with an incredible line-up of real, everyday people matched as mentors and mentees, audiences will hear invaluable insights and expertise, helping them overcome the most common pain points, whether it’s managing cash flow and attracting more customers, or getting on top of your business metrics,” Ms Moloney said.

Mentor Next Door is designed to feel like a private mentoring session, listening to some of the industry’s top minds, sharing authentic stories and insights about how to overcome obstacles, avoid mistakes, and stay on the path to success.”

In her role at News Xtend, Ms Moloney is well known within the small business sector, having strong product, digital marketing and sales knowledge, and finding creative solutions to build brands and grow businesses.

“At News Corp, we are committed to providing an agile, innovative and market-leading product suite for SMEs to achieve their business goals through News Xtend digital marketing solutions.”

Small business director of Xero Australia, Penny Elmslie said, “Partnering with News Corp Australia is an incredible opportunity for us to facilitate conversation about small business pain points and success stories, so that small business owners can learn and continue to grow.

“We do more than just provide beautiful accounting software. We have built a platform that aims to connect, inspire, encourage and support the business community to overcome obstacles, solve problems, kick-start businesses, and reach their full potential. And for the mentors and mentees involved in the podcasts, it’s a great opportunity to gain wide exposure through the News Corp network.”

The News Corp Australia and Xero podcast series is an extension of a wider Xero marketing campaign, hoping to create a deeper level of engagement with small business owners.

The series includes six podcasts, supported by print and digital marketing, a content marketing campaign for News Corp and Xero’s small business customers, social media and public relations campaign.

Supporting the podcasts are stories written by News Corp’s network of small business experts.

“We have the audience reach and the access to business writers, and Xero have the tools to help small businesses succeed. It’s a great partnership,” Ms Moloney said.

The first podcast – ‘Growing your Pie’ – features mentor Taryn Williams, CEO and founder of theright.fit and WINK Models, sharing her recipes for success with mentee Brooke Rudzis of Sunday Minx.

Ms Williams talks about reaching new markets, growing your customer base, and keeping them happy so they’ll come back for more.

Episode two features mentor Alexandra Tselios, commentator, writer, keynote speaker, board director and founder and CEO of The Big Smoke discussing ‘Mitigating Financial Risk’ with mentee Courtney Sanders, co-founder of Well Made Clothes. Ms Tselios shares some of her early mistakes and provides practical advice on how to get on top of the accounts and finances, allowing more time to look at the bigger picture.

Other episodes in the subscription service focus on time management, smartphones and business, managing cash flow and knowing how business is performing.

www.newsxtend.com.au/mentornextdoor

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TORRENS University Australia has launched a world-first virtual reality (VR) experience to help prospective university students choose their future courses of study,.

‘The Future of You’, developed by Auckland-based virtual and augmented reality (AR) specialists M Theory, is a fully immersive VR environment in which students make a series of decisions to discover their unique personality profile, which in turn uncovers the courses of study that might suit them best and help chart their future careers.

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