Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year Award

Murray Hurps

Finalist of the Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year Award

"Creating the university for entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs."

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When I was 7, I spent each afternoon coding, then went to bed praying I would be running a software company when I grew up.

I'm now 20 years into that dream, having founded and grown several tech companies. In doing so, I have developed a passion for inspiring and supporting others to pursue technology‐driven entrepreneurship, and for them to have the support I didn't have when I launched my first startup at 16.

While my startup grew to over 100 million active users over 15 years, I'm more proud of what I have accomplished afterwards to support others.

I've implemented the largest survey of Australia's startup ecosystem (Startup Muster), grown Australia's largest network of startup hubs (Fishburners), designed and implemented Australia's first data‐focused accelerator program (FUELD) for Australia's oldest company (Westpac), and I'm now building a university‐wide strategy for UTS to inspire and support technology‐driven entrepreneurship at scale (UTS Startups).

I've had unpaid director positions with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA, the peak body for technology companies in Australia), WorkVentures (a not‐for‐profit focused on helping under‐privileged people secure jobs in technology companies), Spark Festival (Australia's largest startup festival) and I've chaired the iAwards (the largest technology awards program in Australia).

Australia's future relies on Australia's future entrepreneurs. I'm passionate about both, and my life is now consumed with implementing a strategy at UTS to inspire all students to see entrepreneurship as normal, desirable and accessible, and to then support all student‐launched startups to continue and to grow.

Key People

Mr Murray Hurps
Director of Entrepreneurship
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit,  UTS


UTS Startups could not happen anywhere other than UTS. This university is a truly incredible place. Remarkably collaborative, with exceptional industry engagement and a very talented and entrepreneurial student body. UTS itself should take credit for the impact I've been able to achieve here. I would also like to thank both Margaret Petty, our Director Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Glenn Wightwick, our Vice President Innovation and Enterprise, for clearing the path and securing continued senior executive support for Entrepreneurship at UTS. Lastly, and most importantly I would like to thank the incredible team working on UTS Startups and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship unit. I've never worked with such a remarkable group of people, and nothing we have done here would have happened without these people and their hard, impact‐focused efforts


Australian Financial Review Article on Murray Hurps "Little fish in Sydney's Silicon Valley"

Murray Hurps profile picture

UTS Startups Headquarters (outside shot)

UTS Startups Headquarters (inside shot)

Murray and leadership team at the StartupAus Gala Dinner Nov 2018

UTS Startups Awards 2018

Murray presenting at "Intern with a Startup Event"

The team at UTS Open Day

UTS Startups Awards

UTS Startups Awards


Impacting lifes

Of the many stories that can be told from our community of startups, I'd like to highlight three stories (names are fictitious to preserve privacy).

Blue completed her PhD in change management, aiming to improve her consulting career. After a workshop with UTS Startups she is launching a platform to provide the new approach she developed digitally to a large number of companies, instead of just giving her consulting work a boost.

Before joining UTS Startups Jose was working on a startup that, despite impressive efforts, failed. This took a toll on his emotional health to an extreme level. With the support of regular check‐ins from our UTS Startups team, and the support of our community, he has now launched a new startup focused on allowing Venture Capitalists to purchase insurance for the mental health of founders they are investing in. In doing so, the cost of some of this insurance is then spent on a program to support startup founders to receive preventative and intervention support.

Yasmeen was studying to be a neurosurgeon. In the course of this, she was diagnosed with a medical condition that would mean her hand tremors would prevent her from pursuing this career.

After engaging with the UTS Startups workshops and community, she is now instead pursuing a startup that provides customised 3D‐printed breast replacements for women who have had mastectomies, has been accepted into multiple accelerator programs, and is now in California for a Y Combinator shortlist interview.


Lessons learned

The three surprising learnings I would point to are:

1: Entrepreneurship is not what people think it is.
For me, entrepreneurship is choosing what you work on for yourself, instead of being told what to work on for someone else. You can decide what to work on, and own what you create. You can be your own boss, set your own schedule, work on technology that excites you, and create the change you want to see in the world.
The world is created by entrepreneurs, but more people need to understand the true nature of entrepreneurship for its potential, and theirs, to be achieved.

2: Inspiring entrepreneurship is very different to teaching entrepreneurship.
Teaching entrepreneurship often results in a set of learning outcomes that are broadly applicable, but not particularly useful in inspiring people to pursue this as a career.
Inspiring entrepreneurship requires a different approach to teaching entrepreneurial skills, and both are needed for entrepreneurs to be created.

3: Individuals are smart, but systems are rarely designed intelligently.
Universities are full of intelligent and hardworking people, but rarely does someone have the opportunity to step back and design the ideal arrangement of components to achieve a new outcome for the university, and particularly someone that isn't subject to the normal incentives and career considerations that people inside universities typically are.

I feel that UTS Startups has succeeded because of this approach, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the foresight of the university in adopting this approach.


What's coming?

We have not made life easy for ourselves in 2020. The success and growth in UTS Startups has set a high bar from which to grow in the year ahead.

We have demonstrated a capacity to inspire and support student‐launched entrepreneurship at scale, and this now creates an opportunity to partner with organisations and individuals who would like to leverage and invest in this expertise to further expand our impact.

We can't yet talk about everything we have in store for 2020, but we are very confident that there is a lot of potential remaining in terms of the number of student‐launched startups we can help to start at UTS, and the proportion we can help to continue and grow.

We are also investing significant effort into a new program to engage with a large number of Australian high schools, in order to improve the understanding of, and enthusiasm for, entrepreneurship. In doing so, we hope to further expand the impact we can have to include those who are not currently studying at UTS, and who might never study at UTS.

2020 will be an incredibly exciting year for UTS Startups, and UTS as a whole as it continues to develop into the university for entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs.



Currently active student‐launched startups in UTS Startups


New startups launched at UTS Startups in the last year


Current team members in UTS Startups


Current UTS students in UTS Startups


Mentoring sessions with UTS Startups in the last year

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