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UNSW producing the most entrepreneurs in Australia

Data released this week by US tech database CrunchBase has found the University of New South Wales (UNSW) produced more technology entrepreneurs in the past 15 years than any other Australian university.

UNSW had more than double the number of entrepreneurs produced by the University of Technology Sydney, which took the second place.

Running the analysis for Australian universities shows UNSW leads the field with 16 founders or co-founders – the majority of whom are computing and electrical engineering graduates.

“For most of our students, the world of entrepreneurship is certainly in reach and an option we try to encourage and foster,” says Associate Professor Maurice Pagnucco, Head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering.

“It’s one of the most exciting things about computing,” he says. “If you have the skills and the passion, all you really need is an Internet connection and a creative idea.”

UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering started an incubator program in 2011, which provides rent-free space for six months to student start-ups.

The University’s commercialisation company, NewSouth Innovations (NSi), has also kick-started a student enterprise division designed to help start-ups and student innovators.

NSi offers student entrepreneurs commercial and legal advice, and connects them to mentors and external legal, IP and tax advisors. It also organises networking events where students can pitch their start-up ideas to angel investors whom, for many students, are difficult to have access to. All services are free of charge for current UNSW students.

“What’s maybe different is our commercialisation approach, we now give 100% of the equity to the students. That’s not the case in every university yet but it’s becoming the trend.” says Josh Flannery, student enterprise manager at NSi.

Flannery says that he is currently speaking to 60 to 70 individual students who are working on start-ups at the moment, and while the results were recognition of UNSW’s commitment to encouraging entrepreneurship, he believes UNSW and NSi are about to reach a tipping point and start producing even more successful start-ups.

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