Get Rich or Save the World Trying: Social Entrepreneurs

There has been a lot of buzz around “social entrepreneurship” and social startups over the last few years and with it a lot of confusion over what a “social startup” actually is. Whilst some camps define social startups as not dissimilar to a charity or NPO, others dismiss them as businesses using a social cause for pure marketing and differentiation purposes.

Among the 215 or so student entrepreneurs and startups coming out of UNSW in the last few years we have had an impressive batch of social entrepreneurs with varying takes on social entrepreneurship, interesting social impact strategies and with impressive degrees of success.

FoodBank Local is a food aid logistics software company run by current UNSW Computer Science student, Brad Lorge.


Foodbank Local

Chuffed is a crowdfunding platform for social causes run by UNSW Biomedical Engineering alumni, Prashan Paramanathan.


Chuffed Crowdfunding for Charity & Social Causes

Chuffed Crowdfunding for Charity & Social Causes

Conscious Step is an e-commerce platform aligned with UN causes headed up by UNSW Medical PhD graduate Hassan Ahmad and UNSW Business School Finance major, Prashant Mehta (on exchange student from the US).

NewSouth Innovations has had the pleasure of working with both Brad and Prashant via the Student Entrepreneur Development program and more recently with Prashan who is looking to pull together a UNSW social entrepreneur community.

To dig deeper into how and why social startups like these work and what makes a social entrepreneur tick, I asked these co-founders 5 questions regarding perceptions, motivations, challenges, success and future plans.

ED: I saw Hassan pitch at the original Startup Games 18 months ago and thought the guy could sell Ice to Eskimos, very talented at getting his message across and convincing people to get involved, I have also worked with Brad and from the early days found him organising events, arranging competitions, getting sponsorships from companies to support the University Clubs he is involved with, it wasn’t a surprise to me to see his team win.

1. What is your definition of “social entrepreneurship / social startups”

Brad Lorge, FoodBank Local:

Brad-Lorge-Imagine Cup-77_0

The UNSW Imagine Cup Team – Brad Lorge on the right

I see it as redefining profit to include something important to both the entrepreneurs and other members of the community. I think the best social startups have their impact and core business directly aligned.

Prashan Paramanathan, Chuffed:

Prashan Paramanathan - Chuffed

Prashan Paramanathan – Chuffed

There seems to be a whole industry of people who spend time trying to come up with a definition for ‘social enterprise’ – I’m hesitant to add to the muddle. Generally what I find is that there are two types of organisations that call themselves social enterprises:

1. Businesses that have a social purpose embedded into their actual trading activity (most commonly commercial businesses that employ some category of disadvantaged people or businesses that service the not-for-profit sector); and

2. Businesses that redistribute (a portion of) their profit to social causes (eg. charity water, who gives a crap, tom’s shoes)

Prashant Mehta, Conscious Step

Prashant Mehta - Conscious Step

Prashant Mehta – Conscious Step

Social Entrepreneurship allows for a company to have a primary mission or focus on giving back or making the world a better place, while leveraging the advantages of being a for-profit company. Allowing advantages for developing better products, paying for better employees, and having additional funds to test and develop stronger and more unique marketing campaigns.


2. What motivates you as a social entrepreneur

Brad Lorge, FoodBank Local:

The same things that motivate me as a social entrepreneur motivate me as an engineer – we want to build something that has an impact for others. We want to make a contribution to our profession.

Prashan Paramanathan, Chuffed:

Tech in the non-profit sector is very often done very badly. Much of this is due to non-profits deprioritising tech spending, but it’s also due to a lack of tailoring of products to the sector. Most often people assume that giving non-profits a free version of the software design for commercial customers will lead to a good outcome – it very rarely does. The sector needs products designed for the sector, by people who understand the sector – and understand tech. That’s where I want to play.

Prashant Mehta, Conscious Step:

Motivation comes from delivering a better product than anything available in today’s market, while creating awareness for the changes I’d like to see in the world. In the case of Conscious Step, providing people with fun solutions for the problems that affect our day to day lives.

3. What are some of the challenges and misconceptions for social entrepreneurs?

Brad Lorge, FoodBank Local:

Identity crisis is a challenge, and knowing the difference between good and bad ideas and practice. A misconception is that you need to give up on growth of investment because a social startup has a social objective. Social startups with the right business acumen grow faster, have stronger support and break through barriers better than any other.

Prashan Paramanathan, Chuffed:

The two that I worry about are:

1. Social entrepreneurs not focusing enough attention on whether there’s a commercially-viable business case behind their venture. There’s not enough focus on delivering a great product or service for your customer, which manifests in several ways including: directly copying businesses from the commercial sector and assuming they’ll work for the non-profit sector; focusing too much on servicing a beneficiary, instead of a customer; or assuming that being a ‘social enterprise’ gives them slack in the market on delivering an excellent product.

2. As a social sector, we need to do a better job of attracting smart startup brains from the commercial startup sector. There is a very large bank of knowledge on how to run a startup well which needs to be imported into the social enterprise scene. I think we confound these startup skills with general ‘commercial’ skills and seek them out from experienced corporate types – this isn’t the best place to get them.

Hassan pitching Concious Step at the Startup Games - Credit Startup Games Bart Jelema

Hassan pitching Concious Step at the Startup Games – Credit Startup Games Bart Jelema

Prashant Mehta, Conscious Step:

Some of the challenges as a social entrepreneur include:

a) Financial Constrains – Most startups do not have a lot of financial backing. This forces you to really work to prioritize how money can be best spent to continue growth, but continually improving the back end of any business.

b) Testing- Getting out of your head and getting feedback on whether your idea is viable, learning the best ways to generate profits and revenues, and understanding the main reason people are interested in your product or service.

c) Networking- Networking is so important and can sometimes even be a bit costly. Meeting people in the same industry or working on similar projects can provide advise or knowledge that can save a lot of time, energy, and resources. More importantly, teams can usually accomplish more than individuals. More importantly the skills of meeting people and presenting can take one far in life.

As for misconceptions, one of the biggest misconceptions among social entrepreneurs is that there social mission will be its primary driver. The truth is your product has to be superior to the rest of the market, offer competitive advantages, and a social mission and presence is the cherry on top. Mission driven companies, whether startups or major corporation are becoming more and more common, and almost now an expectation with increased awareness of the many issues around the world.

4. How would you summarise your success so far?

Brad Lorge, FoodBank Local:

We achieved a 70% efficiency increase for food distribution. We have partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the world as well as the biggest charities.

Prashan Paramanathan, Chuffed:

Since launching Chuffed.org in October 2013, we’ve grown by about 30% every month and will soon have raised over $1 million for over 200 social cause organisations in Australia. The biggest of these campaigns was for a sanctuary for rescued farm animals – Edgar’s Mission – which raised over $162,000 from 1,785 donors in 14 countries, making it the largest Australian social cause campaign to run on any major crowdfunding platform. To support this growth, we have raised $460,000 in seed funding from the Telstra Foundation.

Prashant Mehta, Conscious Step:

Some of the press we’ve received early on includes our Indiegogo Campaign/Commercial , United Nations coverage, exposure during the Business for Good Competition, success in the BFG Pitch, Sydney SEED Fund Competition , Top 50 Social Entrepreneurs in Australia and finally a feature in the Women’s Wear Daily/ Footwear News .

5. So where to from here?

Brad Lorge, FoodBank Local:

We will keep building momentum behind a movement to push technology forward and end hunger.

Prashan Paramanathan, Chuffed:

We believe there is still a very large amount of room for growth in the Australian market, both in the rapidly growing not-for-profit and social enterprise sector, but also for crowdfunding in the school and university sector as well as for personal cause campaigns. We are also likely to expand internationally as broaden our product line to support more tailored online donation products for the social enterprise and not-for-profit sector.

Prashant Metha, Conscious Step:

Conscious Step intends to continue to raise money spread awareness for additional causes, while growing its presence in the U.S and Australian market. We plan to continue to educate people on the causes that are resulting in the most issues around the world, and simple ways they can get more involved and help create more solutions. More importantly, we intend to use organic materials and promote the values in fair-trade working condition to provide our customers with a superior sock experience.

It’s inspiring to work with and be supported by people like Prashan, Brad and Prashant and exciting to know they are in talks about potential collaboration based on a shared desire to foster a really strong social entrepreneur community around the university and within the broader Australian startup and business community.

I tend to think social startups are neither a fad, marketing ploy nor driven by a simple NPO charity goal but are the tip of the iceberg for what will become a normal part of corporate ethics for most successful companies. At some point, those companies that do not include social related considerations – across the supply chain – will fall behind those that do.

Starter Businesses – Great learning experiences for young entrepreneurs

Photo Credit: Scott Coleman

It’s not difficult to find a frustrated entrepreneur from our ecosystem whenever small businesses, lifestyle companies and startups get painted with the same brush.

Small businesses are just that – small versions of big businesses whereas startups (as Steve Blank drilled into our heads during my time with him in January during the Lead LaunchPad for Accelerators / Incubators program at UC Berkeley) are temporary organisations searching for a repeatable and scalable business model.

As universities playing in the startup ecosystem, the obvious route to remain relevant to students who care and the ecosystem itself is to set up programs that particularly serve and support programs that focus on encouraging and supporting startups.

It would be “missing the point” or “getting it wrong” to do the same for small businesses or lifestyle companies, wouldn’t it?

I don’t agree.

Firstly, we have to keep in mind that entrepreneurs, on average, fail 3 or 4 times before their first successful startup. So for student entrepreneurs, the nature of the first business they start is less relevant than the fact that it serves as a vehicle to develop them as entrepreneurs.

And an entrepreneur for a scalable tech startup and an entrepreneur for a small business face different challenges and need to use different methodologies but the skill sets required for success are not worlds apart.

Before I go on, let’s put this into perspective. The startup ecosystem needs more million dollar innovative Australian startups and the ultimate goal should be working toward this. But at the university level we have to also build a pipeline of entrepreneurs that may not have their first experiences in real world business as a tech entrepreneur co-founder.

Working with young entrepreneurs on a daily basis, I can testify that there are a growing number of first time small business entrepreneurs that aspire to eventually become a startup co-founder after learning what it takes to run a business more generally.

To explore this further I spoke with two young entrepreneurs at UNSW who are currently running successful small businesses but are also interested in creating growth startups. Shahe Momdjian and I originally met during the first edition of the UNSW Startup Games in 2012.

Shahe won 2nd prize with his startup StartupGenie.

Ed: I saw Shahe pitch StartupGenie last year and in my opinion it was one of the most likely to turn into a real scalable startup, its a real problem and he had a real solution.

Startup Genie

Startup Genie


I asked Shahe about the small business he has been running since his high school days and his thoughts on these matters.

Shahe Momdjian

Shahe Momdjian

Shahe Momdjian

Josh: What is your business about?

Shahe: We’re about proving that Young Wisdom is not an oxymoron! We are a communications and innovation consultancy designed to bridge the gap between talented young communicators (our team) and the corporate world (our clients) by building trusting relationships and delivering quality work.

So far, we’ve come to specialise in marketing communications and within that corporate (and startup) video production. Now, we’re branching out from there.

Recently we’ve begun to help business leaders and teams become more effective through communication skills training and team-building. Next, we plan to offer development and custom SaaS solutions to support our clients’ various communications initiatives.

Josh: Do you have an opinion on “lifestyle companies vs. startups”?

Shahe: Startups

I’m a big fan, but it’ll help more if I’m critical instead… Startup culture, particularly for students, can be problematic at times. We can underestimate what it really takes to run a business, and we can forget that a startup is (at least, trying to be) a real business. The “ask for forgiveness, not permission” mentality that many have adopted doesn’t help.

At the risk of oversimplifying… Sometimes I encounter startups that might have been better off as a feature in another product, or even a marketing/CSR initiative for a larger organisation (something the “founders” could be paid to implement).

Sometimes it feels like we’re “disrupting” for the sake of it, or being driven by a would-be boss’ ego. We don’t spend enough time vetting our ideas according to actual market needs and justifying why they deserve to be whole new businesses (even knowing what we do about lean methodology).

We then try to find a cofounder who will be just as committed (without looking much further than the next networking event) and try to pitch for other people’s hard-earned money to make it happen. This approach is full of risk and it’s no wonder that many investors are not interested.

We could then choose to blame the startup investment community and/or government for being small-minded, try again overseas or go back a few steps. And then, after many years of slogging away, there’s the opportunity cost to consider…


For young entrepreneurs in particular, running a “lifestyle” business or being a contractor, are excellent ways to learn what it takes to actually run a business without investing too much capital (or worse, someone else’s capital).

Because the focus is on developing a relatively simple services-based product range, selling and serving customers instead of building something complicated (at large personal expense, at least in time) and getting funding; we learn the real challenges of business at an operational level.

Cash flow management, time/project management, book-keeping and tax obligations… These are the things that will really test our resolve as would-be entrepreneurs (and make traditional employment look much more attractive).

On the startup path, we only really learn how we feel about these responsibilities after the product is built or funding is received (when the stakes are much higher). As a lifestyle entrepreneur, we continuously work on communication skills and relationship management, customer service and marketing.

Overall we will have fine-tuned a whole range of transferable skills that will benefit us in every business pursuit, contract or job. Lifestyle businesses (of the coaching, training, etc. variety) also tend to relate to the founders’ personal skills or interests e.g. yoga, tennis, maths; which is an effective way for founders to hone their own skills (especially in teaching and working with others).

Finally, it’s not true that these businesses can’t scale dramatically. Once you have a product range that works, a few happy customers and a target market that responds well to you, you can start working on your systems and processes, growing a team, or even add a tech layer (bringing the startup-style potential… except with much more experience, market validation, and maybe even your own capital).

Then, the limits of a business run solely by you dissolve and the potential becomes global…

Josh: What is the most exciting thing that has happened so far?

Shahe: The thrill of sitting across from some of Australia’s largest organisations, listening to their needs, pitching solutions and being taken seriously as a credible supplier in a very competitive industry is one of my favourite moments (whether or not it turns into work right away)… The most exciting thing however was when a colleague of mine sold, worked for and billed his own Young Wisdom client for the first time.

Josh: Future plans?

So many plans. Wait and see! There’s no right or wrong way to go about entrepreneurship as a young person; it’s a brilliant time in our lives to be experimenting. There are however, lower-risk and higher-risk alternatives that we can choose from depending on our risk appetite, resources and skill/experience level. Lifestyle business can be a great way to test yourself while still offering the potential to “go big” later on.

Josh: It has been interesting observing Shahe and his Young Wisdom small business being so integrated into the startup ecosystem – he has provided marketing services for funded geolocation tech startup Geepers and is well known among the community for his extraordinary pitching and presenting skills.


Gary Liang

Gary Liang

Gary Liang

Another brilliant young entrepreneur kicking goals with his own small business but aspiring to eventually be a startup co-founder is Gary Liang who started his profitable tutoring business in his first year at UNSW. I asked him the same questions here.

Josh: What is your business about?

Gary Keystone Education is about designing the HSC for high school students. We provided small personalised classes that are tailored towards the school of the students so they are learning the content they want to and when they want.

Keystone Education

Keystone Education

Josh: Do you have an opinion on “lifestyle companies vs. startups”?

Gary: They are both great – personally I’m learning a lot from this “lifestyle business” from wearing a lot of hats, and having great freedom working for myself, but startups are interesting as they aim to have more of an impact . I would love to involve myself into one in the future.

Josh: What is the most exciting thing that has happened so far?

Gary: I wouldn’t use the word exciting – it’s more like satisfying. Of course I have been excited over inflows of prospective clients (students) or general things like that, but nothing beats the satisfaction of actually seeing the results of what I do. Seeing students improve their marks due to us is a great feeling. It was also amazingly satisfying looking around my offices and seeing that every classroom was full and students were all engaged in learning.

Josh: Future plans?

Gary: I would like to expand into a bigger location and obviously have more students, which means more Keystone mentors. I would also like to pass on some of the roles I have been doing, especially administration work, onto an employee or some sort of assistant so I can focus on the more strategic aspect of the business and make it more sustainable.

Experience with your first Small Business is Valuable

As someone with responsibility over the growth of the startup ecosystem on one university campus, my verdict is that for a more medium to long term mission it is just as important for universities to nurture these small business entrepreneurs and their businesses as startups. They don’t belong in the same pitching competitions, mixers with angel investors oraccelerator programs but they can be a valuable part of the community – whether in the short term as potential service providers or collaborators with startup founders or for the fact that they may just come back in 6 months, 2 years or 10 years as the experienced entrepreneur with domain expertise ready to launch a globally scalable startup.

Reversing Startup Brain Drain: Student recruiters are the new global Startup talent scouts

1ce03bfGuest post by Josh Flannery, Manager, Student Entrepreneur Development , University of NSW. Josh has a Master of Business & Technology (AGSM), a degree in Communications and has worked across Asia in both Startups and Commercialisation roles including 6 years in Japan, and 2 years in China & Hong Kong as Senior Regional Manager, China for Macquarie University. In 2005 Joshua Co-founded edtech company StudyLink株式会社, the Asia based sister company to Learning Information Systems Pty Ltd and also ran a boutique education consultancy in Japan, InterCreations, with fellow Japan guru Jeremy Breaden.

Josh has developed and launched the student enterprise program at UNSW which has helped launch early-stage start-up ventures for ~200 student entrepreneurs. If you want to get involved as a mentor, industry partner or a sponsor you can connect with Josh on Linkedin.

I have two really strong passions in my work life. One is student entrepreneurship and the other is international education. When these two worlds cross, I get excited.

There has been endless talk of the problems and issues related to young Australian entrepreneurs leaving Australia – usually the most exciting startups as they have, to some degree, proved their business model is able to scale beyond our shores. Two startups I have worked closely with in the last 18 months, Conscious Step and Couchelo have done just this – to New York and Singapore respectively. (Ed: I saw Hassan from Conscious Step pitch at one of his first UNSW startup competitions and I think this guy could sell ice to eskimos, he is one of the best pitch competition competitors I have ever seen)

Conscious Step - UNSW Startup

Conscious Step – UNSW Startup

But what can Australia do to attract talent back to its startup ecosystem? And how?

With recent government cuts to funding programs, it may be a stretch to rely on financial incentives. Our accelerator and incubator scene is stronger and stronger with time, but this is happening across the globe simultaneously too so there is limited scope for building new, uniquely Australian, competitive advantages with new programs. We do have a reputation for nice weather working in our favour but are sun, surf and sand alone enough to attract seriously talented entrepreneurs or startups over to Australia. Probably not.

So if the money is not here, the support programs are yelling “me too” and our beautiful beaches are not enough to attract top notch startups then perhaps we looking for solutions too late in the cycle. Perhaps we should take a step back and look at who IS actually coming to Australia and why. This is where my two worlds cross over because I can see potential opportunity for our Australian startup ecosystem in tapping into an incredibly successful machine that exports Australian education programs by recruiting international students to study at our tertiary education institutions. That machine is lives in the international marketing and recruitment efforts of our universities, TAFE’s and other private tertiary education providers.

We have an opportunity to translate international student recruitment into “global startup talent scouting for startups”. The best thing about this concept for me is that we are already trialing it – and it works.

unsw photoPhoto by unsw.flickr Earlier this month, UNSW ran a roadshow of events across several cities in China. One of the key themes being marketed leading up to and during the events was the opportunity to tap into a deep and sincere support service, programs and events aimed at giving students who move to Sydney for their study the best possible chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur (or failing fast) and most importantly “learning by doing”. We ran a competition for potential students who were given an opportunity to pitch a startup idea and the winner was awarded with thousands of dollars in services available for use once the startup is up and running on campus.

The competition encouraged students, some of whom were already running startups, to consult with us regarding what type of support and what opportunities were available for them if they were to pursue the big move over to Australia. And some of these students were brilliant.

The result of this exercise is two-fold. For the university, services and programs for startups are being leveraged as a carrot to attract more students, more entrepreneurial students and to help solidify UNSW’s position in the market as “the place to go for entrepreneurial students, regardless of study focus area”.

Secondly, for the local startup ecosystem we are, in effect, scouting for global talent that will enhance the ecosystem in which the university is so entrenched. A live example of this is the young man I presented a prize to in Shanghai last week for his startup idea which is based on a successful business he is working on in China for several years to date. I look forward to being a part of a process that plugs him, and many others into our startup ecosystem over the coming years.

Does this model counter the many Australian startups we have lost to Silicon Valley? Not yet, but we’re just getting started.

Photo by unsw.flickr

Photo by robb3d

From 0 to 200 start-ups in 24 months at UNSW

Guest post by Josh Flannery, Manager, Student Entrepreneur Development , University of NSW. Josh has a Master of Business & Technology (AGSM), a degree in Communications and has worked across Asia in both Startups and Commercialisation roles including 6 years in Japan, and 2 years in China & Hong Kong as Senior Regional Manager, China for Macquarie University. In 2005 Joshua Co-founded edtech company StudyLink株式会社, the Asia based sister company to Learning Information Systems Pty Ltd and also ran a boutique education consultancy in Japan, InterCreations, with fellow Japan guru Jeremy Breaden.

Josh has developed and launched the student enterprise program at UNSW which has helped launch early-stage start-up ventures for ~200 student entrepreneurs. If you want to get involved as a mentor, industry partner or a sponsor you can connect with Josh on Linkedin.


The title of this article is a little misleading as start-ups have been coming out of UNSW for many years prior, however, in the last 2 years something different has been going on at UNSW to encourage, support and champion over 200 new start-up projects led by students or recent alumni.

There is no solid data to know for sure, but we have a hunch that this is the highest number of start-ups from any university during a 2 year period nation wide. It’s almost certainly more than any other 2 year period in the history of UNSW.

So what are we doing differently?

UNSW Startup - Smart Sparrow

UNSW Startup – Smart Sparrow

Know the role of the university within the start-up ecosystem

There is a trend in Australia to take a proven or traditional accelerator program model and replicate it on a university campus. Now this model certainly has merit and has its place in the ecosystem. In our case, we saw an abundance of excellent accelerator programs within 15 minutes drive of our campus so recreating the same model on campus would not be creating a new value proposition for our student entrepreneurs. More likely it would attract the start-ups who did not get into the city based brand name programs and the mentors that did not get chosen by the well established programs using the same model.

We see the role of the university in this ecosystem as primarily for providing cross-faculty (read complimentary skill sets), “learning by doing” experiences for self-selected students with a real interest in entrepreneurship. It is to fill the gap between first time entrepreneurs still studying (or recently graduated) and teams with validated ideas who are at the point where they are finally ready to pitch for entry into an accelerator program.

No one is knocking an on campus accelerator, but if a university doesn’t have resources and programs in the “pre-accelerator” space I describe above then the university is trying to pick winners and focus on the 6 or 12 start-ups that win entry into the accelerator model program each year whilst excluding the hundreds – or thousands – of other students from much more than an invitation to Demo Day.

First time student entrepreneurs need a few basic but solid things to work towards their first failure aka real learning:

(a) A sounding board (not consultant) with a network to introduce mentors, service providers or other useful people and organisations

Bart Jellema runs the Startup Games at UNSW

Bart Jellema runs the Startup Games at UNSW

(b) To feel part of a larger community, a micro-ecosystem that is full of students at the very same stage, facing similar challenges along the entrepreneur journey but also some a little behind or further ahead in this journey for casual communication of real value to take place.

Student entrepreneur wins and challenges need to be celebrated as a group

One of the best things we ever did was create a closed social media group exclusively for student entrepreneurs currently working on live projects. We are participants more than administrators and with a few hundred members the group is now a go to place for help requests, co-founder hunting, mentor requests and other exchanges that may not be as appropriate in more public forums. It took some encouragement but now the group has a life of its own.

This list is just touching the surface, but it’s where we started. It’s an experiment for us that is working well and it feels like we are just warming up.

Watch this space!



UNSW breaks ground on new Crouch Innovation Building

The UNSW Centre For Innovation

A Model Of The UNSW Centre For Innovation
Source: http://www.facilities.unsw.edu.au

The University Of New South Wales (UNSW) has started to get real Entrepreneurial and Innovation momentum. There are numerous pitch competitions, entrepreneurial groups and hardware hackers such as NSW Create, it feels like an entrepreneurial spring is blooming.

New South Innovations the commercialization group for the University has put significant effort into the new ‘Crouch Centre For Innovation’, which was inaugurated by its generous benefactor Mr. Michael Crouch.

Michael is the Executive Chairman of Zip Industries the company that pioneered instant hot water heaters. The ‘Crouch Innovation Centre’ is established with a vision to make Sydney the ‘hub of innovation’ of the Asia-Pacific region.

A Word About The Benefactor

Michael Crouch is an Australian businessman. Interested in promoting Australian exports, he was also the prestigious member of the APEC Business Advisory Council from 1996 to 2007. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Australian School Of Business, and was a former member of the advisory board of the Faculty Of Commerce and Economics at UNSW. He also holds an honorary Doctorate of Business from UNSW.

Breaking ground on Crouch Innovation Centre

Breaking ground on Crouch Innovation Centre _ Credit UNSW ASB

An avid supporter of entrepreneurship and innovation, Mr. Crouch believes that Australia can achieve greatness through innovation.

The ‘Crouch Innovation Centre’ aims to promote entrepreneurship and innovation for its students. The centre will house state of the art facilities such as: an innovation hall and multipurpose work space; and a floor dedicated to special materials for fabrication. The various types of fabrication will include 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics, machining, etc. Initially the innovation centre will be available only for students, and then it may be extended to the university faculties and researchers. The centre will take the best of the innovation schools which are already up and running in Harvard, Yale and MIT, etc; in the words of Mr. Geoffrey Garrett, the dean of the Australian School Of Business, “ inspire in students a life of innovation; to seek better ways to do things and solve problems.”

Location of the Premises

The centre is located beside the Australian School of Business building and inside the Material Science Engineering Building at the UNSW campus.

The UNSW Centre For Innovation 2

The UNSW Centre For Innovation
Source: http://www.facilities.unsw.edu.au

Final Word

The UNSW’s ‘Crouch Innovation Centre’ will help the university achieve greater milestones in the field of innovation. The centre will also be of huge assistance to the university’s various research initiatives that are happening in ASB and NSi. The construction of the centre will be complete by the commencement of the first semester of 2015, i.e. probably by April 2015.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Openlearning.com founder Professor Richard Buckland wins national teaching award

Richard Buckland - Photo credit UNSW

Richard Buckland – Photo credit UNSW

Associate Professor Buckland has been named the 2013 Australian ICT Educator of the Year by the iAwards – a national program recognising innovation and leadership across the ICT industry.

According to a number of his students he is a legend. He and former student Adam Brimo founded OpenLearning.com Australia’s own MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in October 2012 which appears to have more than >25,000 students registered.


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know a lot of educators are highly critical of MOOCs and I don’t personally think they will replace campus based degree’s, there is still definitely a place for campus life and obviously a place for research, however I love what MOOCs are doing to education of the masses.

In my opinion it is one of the most significant shifts since the printing press.

When you think about the impact you might have as a human being, it really is a function of how many people you can reach with your message, expertise or problem solving ability. A lecturer might get to teach to 500 students a year but if they open their lecture on a MOOC it could very quickly become 10s of thousands. The most popular course in the US MOOC system Computing Science has over

Although accurate timely numbers are hard to find its estimated the 3 main MOOCs in the US have enrolled >5 million students with 100s of courses and yet this is only a very small % of the total number of courses that could be offered and the concept is only a few years old.

When you think the largest single University Campus in the USA has an enrollment of 60,000, MOOCs in the space of a few years have surpassed the largest study body the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India (which I suspect is comprised of dozens of campuses and a TV style of University that has channels) in the world at 3,500,000.

It’s not hard to see that a successful Professor could have a massive global impact and I would suggest that this is more important than perpetuating a closed University model.

Richard Buckland wins ICT Educator of the Year Award -Photo Credit iAwards http://www.iawards.com.au/

Some people think about a University education as achieving a degree, a piece of parchment to hang on the wall rather than a deep exploration of topics that interest you, it seems learning for the sake of learning went out of fashion many years ago. Ask yourself why many of the great leaders now in the 70-80s had Ba on their resume, in my opinion it’s primarily as they took an interest in a general education for the sake of education before they specialised. Specialisation became more popular (and a Ba less popular) as attention was focused to turning out specialised employees.

A University education is a luxury only afforded to a select few % of the world’s population, most people who are in the system forget the majority of the world’s population through no fault of their own are born into circumstances where a University education is not available, wrong country, wrong socioeconomic situation or in some countries wrong sex.

What if the cure for cancer, diabetes, hunger, green energies and a 1000 other pressing world problems is trapped in the mind of a person who can’t get to University.

MOOCs offer anyone who wants to take the time to learn an opportunity to access content that was otherwise locked away for the privileged few.

Congratulations to Richard for winning the award and for having the vision to push open education forward.




Enhanced by Zemanta

This book will change your life



Learn about OKRs - Objectives & Key Results, the management system that Google & Intel use to achieve massive growth


You can use OKRs to massively accelerate your startup and personal life.


Written by John Doerr the legendary Venture Capitalist who invested $12m into Google which became $3 billion a few years later.


He also invested in Amazon, Intuit, Zynga, Compaq, Netscape, Macromedia, Symantec, Sun & dozens of other companies.


Subscribe to our irregular email & get a 2-month Amazon Audible trial with 2 free books


PS Free book offer only for new Audible trials