The University of Sydney has established an on-campus innovation hub, aimed at fixing Australia's historic inability to turn ideas into "wealth generating businesses", which the university said is crucial to the country's economic future.
According to James Meade, head of the Sydney Social Innovation Hub, universities have an essential role to play in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in both the private and public sectors.
"Innovation and entrepreneurship requires enthusiasm and we have lots of that. But it also requires targeted support. By leveraging informal knowledge networks within the university we can enable successful student innovation outcomes," Meade said.
"The Sydney Social Innovation Hub will provide a central facility for students of all faculties to co-create and innovate with academics, community, and industry."
The newly established hub will see former IBM CFO and COO Cameron Barnes step in as the expert-in-residence, with the hub's flagship program, Hatch at Sydney, expected to provide early stage cross-disciplinary projects. Meade said that all projects would need to demonstrate their "social benefit" in order to qualify for support.
"Passionate young innovators and entrepreneurs need more than an education in their chosen field -- they need mentoring, guidance and support to materialise new ideas and solutions for a new and rapidly evolving world," Barnes added.
"In the innovation hub we are seeking to provide that support with access to industry leading expertise and a development environment to fast track development of their innovations. If you have an idea, the Sydney Social Innovation Hub will ensure that you have the resources to bring it to life."
Previously, Australia's former chief scientist Ian Chubb said that the key to a successful entrepreneurial economy is the close involvement of the country's universities. He said that entrepreneurship is a human endeavour, and is thus inseparable from education, not independent of it.
"Australians aren't short of talent but we need to get better at turning our creativity into successful products and services," Chubb said in October. "To be a more innovative country, we need to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset at every level of education -- starting in schools, continuing in higher study, and enduring throughout working lives."
"In popular culture, the entrepreneur is the rogue genius who succeeds without -- or in spite of -- education. And it would be extremely convenient if that were true," Chubb said. "If we cannot teach entrepreneurship, we can only recognise the born entrepreneurs, and get out of their way whilst they get on with the business of change."