Graduates have recipe for business success
Start with a business idea, throw in some entrepreneurial flair, add specialised expertise blended with industry and government support, and you have a recipe for success.
That's the concept behind the highly successful Graduate Entrepreneurial Program (GEP) located at Thebarton Research Park, one of the University's four Adelaide campuses.
Over the years the GEP has nurtured some outstanding entrepreneurs, including tourism operator Drew Kluska (Outback Encounter), internet web provider Anoosh Manzoori (Smartyhost) and Chinese language and cultural consultant Leonie McKeon.
This year the University has fine-tuned the program, bringing its management under the auspices of the Entrepreneurship Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC).
Some curriculum changes will also take effect from 2009, with a Graduate Certificate replacing the previous Masters program.
GEP students will have the option of undertaking a Graduate Certificate in either Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or Science and Technology Commercialisation.
"These changes will allow participants to develop the skills not only to succeed in their current venture, but also to apply frameworks to ensure they have the skills to become serial innovators and entrepreneurs," said Megan Llewellyn, GEP Program Manager.
One of the emerging success stories for 2009 is a young company that is developing a mineral processing and water treatment technology for mining industry waste.
Jamie Miller, Greg Edeson and Ty Yengi from Somnium Innovations have been working within the GEP's business incubator at Thebarton, liaising with mentors, industry experts and University of Adelaide students to develop the technology.
"The program has given me an opportunity to go after what I want to do and at the same time facilitate industry and university linkages," Jamie said.
"The business incubator has taught us to first identify that a market exists for a service or product. Through that process we can then mobilise the required resources and capital."
Somnium Innovations has attracted seed funding from Mount Isa Water to develop a water treatment and waste recovery technology for metal-contaminated waters.
The principal stakeholder is the mining industry, although the technology could potentially be applied to other industries that deal with mineral waste, Jamie said.
Three chemistry students, as well as three final-year Chemical, Mechanical and Petroleum Engineering students, are working on the technology with Somnium Innovations.
The company has already lodged a provisional patent and should have a prototype ready by April 2009, with a pilot product planned for rollout in 2010.
Somnium is now seeking to attract the right strategic partners and potential investors with established networks in the mining industry.
"The core competency of this business is really in the development of the technology," Ty said. "This is where the University has been so valuable, fostering a collaborative environment and a cluster of knowledge. Without it, businesses like ours would not happen."
The Graduate Entrepreneurial Program has provided the team with subsidised office accommodation, one-on-one mentoring from experienced business people and a qualification through ECIC.
Since 1993 the GEP has been instrumental in the launch of 60 innovative businesses.
For more information, visit: www.ecic.adelaide.edu.au/gep/