The University of Wollongong (UOW) has been awarded $1 million funding from the NSW Government to establish two signature programs focused on creating next-gen entrepreneurs. Empowering students through skills and producing successful entrepreneurs is one of the key strengths of UOW and the funding will complement the University’s efforts in producing entrepreneurs who are prepared for solving complex global problems by implementing Industry 4.0 principles. The funding will establish two new programs to support entrepreneurship in the Illawarra region.

The first program will leverage the expertise, resources and industry networks of iAccelerate. It will adapt our existing education program – Activate, Accelerate, Advance – which is designed for the startup community, and adapt it for delivery at scale for UOW students. The program will be primarily targeted at very large numbers of undergraduate students, but it will be open to postgraduate students as well.

The second program will provide a pathway, facilities and support for those who complete the first program to launch student-led start-up and spin-out companies at iAccelerate. Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the project has been funded under the NSW Government’s Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Skills program.

“The NSW Government is investing in projects that break down barriers and encourage students to drive innovation and develop their entrepreneurial skills,” Mr Henskens said. “We want to help students learn in new and innovative ways, using emerging technologies, so that universities can better address skills gaps and develop job-ready graduates.”

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Academic and Student Life) Professor Theo Farrell said these programs will produce the future workforce to drive innovation in the Illawarra and wider New South Wales. “UOW is immensely grateful to the NSW Government for this funding, which will enable us to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Professor Farrell said. “Both programs will be co-designed with industry, and partnership with industry will be key to delivery of both programs, in particular for the pool of mentors.”

UOW Associate Director for Student Employability Nuala O’Donnell said the University already invests around $1 million annually in its Work-Integrated Learning and Career Development Learning programs for students. “The new programs will be aligned with our existing programs to support Work-Integrated Learning and Career Development Learning to provide a sector-leading package of employability upskilling to empower our students for their future,” Ms O’Donnell said.

UOW iAccelerate Director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury said the funding will leverage UOW’s nearly decade long expertise via iAccelerate. “This funding will allow us to leverage iAccelerate to provide support for UOW students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, which will be beneficial across their career journey,” Dr Stutchbury said.

UOW Dean of Research Knowledge Exchange and Translation Dr Paul Di Pietro is responsible for creating a thriving ecosystem at UOW that facilitates and grows research knowledge exchange and translation and promotes entrepreneurship. “The two proposed programs will prepare the entrepreneurs with the skills that are in high demand and enable them to apply those skills in solving complex problems.” Dr Di Pietro said.

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