Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award

University of Adelaide

Finalist of the Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award

"Innovation with intent. Here and now."

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In early 2019, the University of Adelaide was ranked No. 1 for entrepreneurship education and engagement in Australia (Maritz, 2019), and the Adelaide Business School’s research and education activities was instrumental to this ranking. Although other universities may claim to be entrepreneurial, none has the foundational and structural capacity of the University of Adelaide. We have a distinct entrepreneurial pedigree. The University is an influential stakeholder in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, creating graduates who are equipped with the dynamic skill-set required to thrive in today’s employment landscape. We do this by developing entrepreneurial mindsets and skills through our entrepreneurship and innovation courses, both core and elective, across all disciplines at all levels of study. In addition, we provide platforms that supporting staff with their entrepreneurial endeavours. Furthermore, its influence is recognised regionally within South Australia, and internationally. Influence on both policy and practice is particularly evident in the progressive role the University has played over more than two decades. The University’s strategic commitment to entrepreneurship began at its inception and has been an organisational cornerstone throughout its history as a disruptive and innovative institution. This commitment is evident in its strategy, leadership and operations. We have been a leader in our field, particularly with regard to incorporating entrepreneurship and innovation in our course design, research commercialisation, and community and business engagement. We were the first to appoint a Pro Vice Chancellor (Entrepreneurship) and continue to lead the way in entrepreneurship education and engagement.

Key People

Prof. Noel Lindsay
Pro Vice Chancellor (Entrepreneurship) and Dean
Adelaide Business School,  University of Adelaide













Impacting lifes

The University of Adelaide has always been a leader in innovation and research that has made a difference to people's lives around the world. This culture of innovation has earned the University its reputation as a dynamic, forward-thinking and productive institution, with a wide range of industry and government clients. It has especially exceled at nurturing entrepreneurship through research commercialisation, and providing a safety net and support framework for start-ups. ByGen are a company that we have been thrilled to support from its very inception. During their PhD studies, Dr Lewis Dunnigan and Mr Ben Moreton developed a low cost and energy method for creating activated carbon, which has a number of applications across several industries. They formed a company and then embarked on a University-supported journey which saw them create a lab-scale plant, take part in accelerator programs, and take up residency in the University’s ThincLab Waite incubator. We have been able to offer collaboration opportunities, provide a physical location for them to build prototypes, provide legal advice and support, and connect them with key people in their field. They are in the next phase of development, seeking further funds so that they can pursue opportunities in Australia and China. One of the rewarding elements of supporting ByGen, is the opportunity we’ve had to build personal relationships with Lewis and Ben. They have acted as mentors for new start-ups and entrepreneurs and have willingly volunteered to participate in and support their University and ThincLab communities in various ways.


Lessons learned

Although our university has a long history of taking bold steps forward and leading the way, it takes a long term-view to create and maintain a truly entrepreneurial university. Leadership must recognise and build on the areas of excellence in entrepreneurship as a foundation to advance a holistic entrepreneurial ecosystem inside and outside of the university. It’s not just about delivery innovation degrees and courses, it’s also about offering complimentary programs such as the Australian eChallenge, and the ThincLab network (in Australia, Singapore and France). It also means training, enabling and recognising visionary and influential staff and as well as students, and creating a culture that encourages considered risk-taking.

We would advise others wanting to follow in our footsteps to embrace philosophy and to also focus on the purpose of the University. The purpose and potential is to change the world. Through our research, engagement, graduates and outreach we have far reaching and long lasting impact on our local, regional and international community. But don’t try to do it alone. The greatest impact can be achieved by working with and influencing the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem jointly with other stakeholders and building and advancing that system. Learn from others too – seek out best practice, interesting innovations and inspiring ideas and see how they can be harnessed. Develop an entrepreneurial university holistically – embed entrepreneurial thinking and actions, as well as related mechanisms, processes and structures, across the university, in every faculty and department.


What's coming?

This year, under the guidance of Prof Peter Rathjen, the University of Adelaide released its new Strategic Plan, Future Making. The new plan contains Five Pillars to Excellence that define the University’s strategic direction, shaping the University's trajectory through to its 150th year and beyond. These broad pillars are:

-Connected to the Global World of Ideas

-A Magnet for Talent

-Research that Shapes the Future

-A 21st Century Education for a Growing Community of Learners

-The Beating Heart of Adelaide

Future Making aligns the University's global connectivity, research scholarship and human potential with the social, intellectual and economic needs of young people, South Australia and the nation. Under its new strategic direction, the University will move from being a commentator on society to becoming an active participant in society. The University will grow and diversify its student cohort, with greater access and equity, and with more diversity in academic programs and modes of delivery.

With specific reference to entrepreneurship, more electives will become available to every faculty, encouraging all individuals to build an entrepreneurial mind and skill set. We are proud of our degrees in innovation and entrepreneurship, which create validity and offer career paths to those wanting to be entrepreneurs. However, it is also our aim to educate and communicate to others in arts, engineering, medicine and every other faculty, that innovation can be harnessed in any field, and that entrepreneurship’s core components – resilience, creativity, problem-solving, learning from failure – can create strong and courageous leaders.



# rank for entrepreneurship education and engagement in Australia

$189 mil

$ raised by start-ups since 2001

26 years

Longest running university-based incubator in South Australia

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