Everything you need to know about Sydney’s start-up school

Everything you need to know about Sydney’s start-up school

Sydney’s School of Entrepreneurship’s first intake of students will hit the books at the Ultimo campus in August. It’s an exciting time with the mammoth project positioned for ultimate success. The school boasts a $25 million funding promise from the NSW government, a CEO with a proven track record of developing a successful start-up school, Nick Kaye, and a goal to cement Sydney as a start-up innovation hub - potentially the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

At CeBIT Australia Mr Kaye, now CEO of the school and previously the CEO of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship SSES, told the audience about the plans for the school and how some of the key lessons he learnt in Stockholm will shape the project. SSES started 20 years ago as a collaboration between five universities. Similarly Sydney’s School of Entrepreneurship is a collaboration, but this time between 12 universities and TAFEs across the state, all of whom are considered equal partners.

“It’s a time of change, new collaboration and new opportunity,” he told the audience. “We aim to serve a pipeline of students. We’re not looking to mirror, we’re looking to leverage by creating entrepreneurial thinkers and developing attributes and supporting capability.”

If we look at SSES as a basis of success, the school has 13,000 graduates, offers 220 courses and has 100 co-curricular offerings. In one calendar year the school can have up to 200 guests presenters and speakers visiting and teaching. The founders of cloud-based music platform SoundCloud met at a SSES matchmaking event. Digital sales platform Klana came out of the school and it recently had a $2.5 billion valuation. These are just two examples, but of course many more exist. Another outcome of the school was alumni coming back and recruiting students studying at the school. Some unexpected lessons to also came out of Stockholm included:

  • Ideas they thought would do really well simply didn't over time
  • “Mad ideas” became mainstays and flagship offerings at the school

 “We need to live as we preach,” Mr Kaye made clear.

He was quick to convey that the school itself is a start-up and that it was an “honest broker between universities, TAFEs and the broader start-up community.”

“We’re looking to fill gaps and supplement [the community],” he said. “But it cannot be purely banter from our end and we need to prove that in our daily actions.” With 40% of jobs not going to exist in 10-15 years he said it was up to the school to show what can be done together, through a collaborative approach, rather than what can be done operating in institutional silos. “We really believe creating an entrepreneurial mindset in our student is just critical,” he told the crowd.

Success measures for the project will be nutted out soon - and as you can imagine it’s not an easy task. Currently the school’s board are looking at KPIS on a strategic level. At the end of his presentation Kaye turned it around to the audience and asked for their input, asking in addition to jobs and mindsets, what else should the school be tracking to measure success?

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