Breaking the Barriers to Student Entrepreneurship

Republished with the permission of the authorTim Hui, President of Fellowship of Medical Engineers & Student Ambassador at QUT.  Photography credit to Marvin Fox Photography.

May 31 saw a close to the Startup Hatch program, with a finale Showcase Event. Startup Hatch was a program planned over a period of 4.5 months, that kicked off on March 2nd and concluded on March 31st that gave university students the opportunity to turn ideas into reality.

Students were encouraged to submit their idea at the start throughout January – February and pitch at Startup Hatch Launch for input and co-founders who could bring new and contrasting skillsets to their team. Startup Hatch Launch saw the formation of 13 teams and by the end of March, there were 19 teams taking part in the program. There were 15 partners, including leading companies to give students a unique insight and develop the core aspects of entrepreneurship and starting a business.

The final day of Startup Hatch, the Showcase, was ultimately a success with 9 of the teams willingly pitching to a panel of three judges and an audience of over 150 people. Read more

Stepping Towards an Enterprising Future


Entrepreneurship is buzzing at Queensland University of Technology, and its not just world class research. Increasingly our students are engaging in many activities linked to their formal studies and outside to develop their enterprising self. For those of you I have not yet met, my name is Colin Jones and I have just joined the School of Management. I am very excited to be arriving at the Queensland University of Technology right at this moment in time when helping our students to imagine and follow their dreams is such a strategic imperative. My past work has focused on the development of reasonable adventurers, or graduates capable of creating their own opportunities for satisfaction. I look forward to making the most of my contacts in the United States and Europe to help the Queensland University of Technology establish a reputation as a leading provider of entrepreneurship education. Critical to such aspirations is the need to connect our current and future efforts to existing programs, like QUT Starters and excellent leadership Development and Innovation program, which many Queensland University of Technology students are already participating in. We see entrepreneurship as not being containable to a classroom, and we aim to use the aspirations of our students to contextualize their learning opportunities in the dynamic space. We believe our students already exist in the real world and we want to help them to realize the change that is possible in both themselves and the future world of their dreams.

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Workshop in theory construction – ACE visitor Professor Paul D. Reynolds shared knowledge with PhD students

Professor Paul D. Reynolds’ recent visit to the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research brought a unique opportunity for PhD students at QUT Business School. Paul is not only well known for his numerous contributions to the field of entrepreneurship research but also for his expertise in theory construction and research methods. He is the author of the classic “A Primer in Theory Construction” which, first published in 1971, still sells about 1,500 copies each year. Paul shared his knowledge and long-time experience as a researcher with research students during a half day workshop in social science theory construction.

Theory construction workshop: ACE visitor Professor Paul D. Reynolds

Theory construction workshop: ACE visitor Professor Paul D. Reynolds

QUT Business School research students from various fields and majors took this opportunity to learn at first-hand about empirically based knowledge, research procedures and strategies for developing theory. Paul addressed many important issues and topics relevant to the research journey of PhD students and thereby could clarify misunderstandings and confusion about a topic which many early-stage researchers perceive as being tricky and hard to grasp. Paul also took time to discuss and respond to specific issues some PhD students face during their research journey.

Theory construction workshop with ACE visitor Professor Paul D. Reynolds

Theory construction workshop with ACE visitor Professor Paul D. Reynolds

Read more news about ACE here

Fail early, fail often – what research has to say

In a recent opinion piece in The Conversation, Professor Andre Spicer from Cass Business School takes issue with some aspects of Turnbull’s National Innovation & Science Agenda.

At this time I believe we have much more reason to celebrate the positives of Turnbull’s innovation agenda than to dissect the details that may be debatable. Further, it is perhaps not entirely correct to say that the idea of learning form failure is “at the heart” of the multi-faceted initiatives in the agenda. This said, Andre is right in suggesting that the evidence on entrepreneurs learning from failure is weak. I am myself currently involved in research following up on entrepreneurs who have recently experienced bankruptcy. Among other things, the results suggest—ironically—that the entrepreneurs who are most motivated to try again are those who have learned the least from the previous failure.

This does not mean that measures to ease the stigma of failure are wrong; it just suggests that the motivation for doing so may not be the right one. A better reason for going softer on those who fail is that we live in a society which systematically punishes bad luck (and over-rewards good luck). This, in turn is due to a bias we all seem hardwired to succumb to unless we make considered efforts not to do so: the fundamental attribution error of ascribing actions and outcomes to characteristics of the agent (i.e., the entrepreneur) while under-estimating the importance of situational factors. By its very nature, entrepreneurial action often resides in the domain of the genuinely uncertain. Hence, failure is often due to factors that are genuinely unknowable at the outset, and does not predominantly occur because entrepreneurs do “stupid things”.

When it comes to “fashionable ideas”, Andre seems willing to help perpetuate exaggerations of the frequency and severity of entrepreneurial failure (see Exit is very common; failure with severe financial, psychological and social consequences is immensely less frequent. In our own large scale study, 76 per cent of nascent firms and 60 per cent of young firms report no loss upon termination of the venture. Only 13 per cent of terminating nascent founders and 6 per cent of young firm founders rated their experience as negative or very negative (see Moreover, a failed venture does not imply a failed entrepreneur.

As regards gaps in the innovation statement I think Andre identifies a more important one in suggesting “similar measures designed to support innovation in larger firms”. It does not appear to me that big business in Australia excels in investing in R&D or seeking collaboration with relevant research frontiers in universities. If we had more CEOs with a “Turnbull mentality” and fewer of “Abbott stock” we could likely look forward to a brighter future for Australia. Clever political re-arrangement of institutional conditions might facilitate such a transition.

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Building on ISPIM conference!

As/Pro Roxanne Zolin used the opportunity of the ISPIM conference to consolidate a research partnership with Professor Matthias Fink and some of his PhD students. Following the conference presentations the group shared their research interests and opportunities for research funding and projects.   Professor Matthias Fink and Roxanne share an interest in immigrant and refugee entrepreneurship. Michael Gusenbauer, a Ph.D candidate at the Institute for Innovation Management (ifi) at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, gave a presentation of his PhD on Innovation Offshoring.  Johannes Gartner talked about his interests in Gamification for a T&L Grant. And Daniela shared her interests in SME banking. The group hope to reunite in Vienna next year.

From right to left: Johannes Gartner, Johannes Kepler University (JKU), Professor Matthias Fink, JKU, As/Pro Roxanne Zolin, QUT, Michael Gusenbauer, JKU and Daniela Maresch, JKU.

From right to left: Johannes Gartner, Johannes Kepler University (JKU), Professor Matthias Fink, JKU, As/Pro Roxanne Zolin, QUT, Michael Gusenbauer, JKU and Daniela Maresch, JKU.

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Summing Up Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015

As usual, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) was a busy time for ACE. On the Tuesday we co-hosted a breakfast seating 120 to discuss “Future Working: The Age of Entrepreneurship”—a fitting theme in Australia of today. ACE Deputy Director Paul Steffens introduced the topic, and four practitioners – Ran Heimann, Vanessa Garrard, Jeremy Liddle and Rebecca Wilson – shared their insights on immigrant, women, youth, and senior entrepreneurship. This was followed by a panel before participants got very active in workshop discussions. ACE Director Per Davidsson wrapped up the event, but the conversation carried on well after the official closing time as the guests did have plenty of ideas to foster entrepreneurship in Australia. Based on this success, ACE and QUT’s Real World Futures group will co-organize a similar event next year.

On the Thursday we continued with “No patent, no success? How to protect your business idea”—a topic of great interest to the “high end” of innovative entrepreneurship. A mix of practitioner and academic presenters gave a multi-faceted illustration of the world of intellectual property protection to 75 internal and external participants. Panellists Kevin Restrick, Matthew Rimmer, Brent Watts and Sam James shared their expertise and answered questions from the engaged audience. Again, Per Davidsson did the concluding wrap-up and the participants lingered and networked long after the official closing time. ACE Post Doc Annelore Huyghe—who also had a big role in organizing Tuesday’s event—did an excellent job in both organizing and leading this highly appreciated event.

Per Davidsson entered the stage for a third time on the Friday as opening speaker at the AIB-ANZ Symposium on International Business. Albeit not a GEW event as such, Per’s topic “The Entrepreneurial Opportunity Construct in the Context of Internationalization” should make it qualify for inclusion here. In all, it was a very well appreciated set of events which showcased ACE to external audiences and provided many potentially valuable contacts both for ACE and other participants.

Read more ACE news HERE


Animated vignettes

sketchbook animation

The ACE series of 3-8 minute [animated/sketchbook/video vignettes] videos introduces important research findings in a very accessible format. They are mainly aimed at practitioner audiences but have proven very useful also for educational purposes. Our most recent videos are:

Cracking the start-up code: Does it matter when you do what?

Frugal Innovation Through Bricolage

Business Planning and the Emergence of New Ventures

View the full series of sketchbook videos


Top Journal Publication Success

Dr Rene Bakker has had great publication success with two articles. “Pull the Plug or take the Plunge: Multiple Opportunities and the Speed of Venturing Decisions in the Australian Mining Industry” (co-authored with ACE Adjunct Professor Dean Shepherd) was published online in July by the Academy of Management Journal. This was followed up in September by his sole-authored article Stepping in and stepping out: Strategic alliance partner reconfiguration and the unplanned termination of complex projects—also from Rene’s large-scale study of Australian mining—appearing in the Strategic Management Journal (SMJ). A more practice-oriented report on the same topic was highlighted in our previous newsletter.

These successes come on the back of Rene’s article in Organization Science last year, and fellow Dutch ACE researcher Henri Burgers recent article in SMJ, which we presented in the previous newsletter. This means ACE research has been very well represented lately in the most prestigious scholarly journals in mainstream Management.

In the previous newsletter we could also report three 2015 articles in the leading journals in Entrepreneurship, Journal of Business Venturing (JBV) and Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice (ETP). One of these, Per Davidsson’s Entrepreneurial opportunities and the entrepreneurship nexus: A re-conceptualization is currently the 4th most downloaded JBV article, topped only by two recent articles on the hot topic of crowdfunding and one “classic: from 1997.

Towards Research Impact – Policy and Media Engagement

ACE is increasingly called upon as a source of information by policy-makers. We recently delivered data from the CAUSEE and GEM projects to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This means that ACE has now delivered customized analyses from these two flagship projects to three federal departments (including also the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and the Small Business Minister [in Treasury]) as well as to the Productivity Commission.
Paul Steffens has recently returned from Istanbul where he was a member of the Australian delegation for the G20YEA (Youth Entrepreneurship Alliance). This was highly successful with the communique to G20 leaders, backed by the B20, recommending that G20 countries provide stronger initiatives to support entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship research (see details below).
Interest in the GEM project has been particularly strong in Canberra over recent months. In September Paul Steffens was invited to present at a workshop organized by the Office of the Chief Economist, and has been invited to deliver another seminar to the Department of Employment next month. He has also written a feature article for the upcoming Innovation Systems report produced by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Interest has also spread internationally – with Paul presenting GEM findings to a group of Sri Lankan Government officials this month.
A recent vignette also based on GEM data, Australian Youth Entrepreneurship and Education, has also attracted substantial media attention including The Australian and The Courier Mail. The associated press release was jointly promoted in an alliance with the FYA (Foundation for Youth Australia) and their $ 20 boss program.
G20 Turkey

Entrepreneurship is Booming at QUT!

With the rise of numerous support initiatives, there has never been a better time to start a new venture as QUT student, alumnus or staff! Student groups QUT Starters, QUT Code and IDEA Network QUT are passionate about fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, and helping like-minded peers to turn their innovative ideas into successful businesses. qutBluebox, the university’s knowledge transfer company, has awarded $ 100,000+ in prizes during its second Innovation Challenge to propel entrepreneurial ideas from drawing board to the marketplace. 2015 winner is video file compression start-up Clip Champ, which has gained half a million users since founding in August last year “with virtually no marketing”. Runner-up Fantasy Insider is a statistics platform with new and easy-to-use tools to analyze and project Australian sports data. In addition, qutBluebox operates a 3-month seed accelerator program, assisting QUT start-up teams to realize their full market potential through coaching, mentoring, training and access to finance. Annelore Huyghe, research fellow at ACE, acted as a learning facilitator in the 2014/2015 program, which was ranked in the top 10% of university business accelerators worldwide by UBI Global. Residents – Vald Performance, Blucore, Hypometer, RigidAir, ALM-Healthtech, Keypark and ProtoGym – have collectively raised $ 1.2mio with a further $ 0.8mio under negotiation, and their products are currently sold in over 35 countries.