Australia 30 October 2015: Queensland investor and entrepreneur, Steve Baxter, today recognised Spike Innovation’s strategic report titled ‘Boosting High-Impact Entrepreneurship in Australia,’ as an insightful look into the entrepreneurial scene in Australia’s university sector.
Mr Baxter, founder of Brisbane’s co-working community and startup hub, River City Labs, said he strongly agreed that it is vital that entrepreneurship forms part of the fabric of Australian universities.
“The report echoes my previous views on this topic; that what we really need from universities is for them to churn out a large number of graduates who possess sophisticated technical skills and who are entrepreneurially enthusiastic.
“It’s not good enough that we produce university students with remarkable tech minds. They need to be able to form and develop the right entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to put these tech abilities to good use and go out and build their own startup,” Mr Baxter said.
Mr Baxter said he believed a crucial component of the report is that it shines a light on the relationship between government funding and university research.
“My view on the topic of government funding and the research sector is no secret – it is well past time that we rethink or rejuvenate the current approach. I think the report testifies to this point by explaining that the process by which the government allocates funding to Australian universities fails to take into account the economic impact of that research. This mindset is nonsensical.”
Mr Baxter commented that while universities are the start of the funnel rather than being an end-game in their own right.
“As the report suggests, universities certainly have a role to play in the entrepreneurial space but they need to shake up their current models. This is a top-down approach, which begins with a shift in attitude at the board level.
“We need to see universities incorporating valid entrepreneurship courses as part of their offering to all students, particularly those studying STEM-related degrees. These should be delivered by external, experienced entrepreneurs – people who have actually gone out and done it, and know the ropes,” Mr Baxter said.
“We also need to make sure that the government does not lose sight of the entire deal flow pipeline – immersing students into the combined tech and entrepreneurial space from the earliest stages of education is vital.
“Providing ongoing support for accelerators, co-working spaces and community programs that foster tech startups is also pivotal. This is the most effective and pragmatic way to ensure a consistent, national approach to entrepreneurship and boosting the startup ecosystem.”
About Steve Baxter
Steve Baxter is one of Australia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, and an active investor and mentor to startups. Steve is an active supporter of Australia’s and Queensland’s startup eco-system, as a founding board member of advocacy group StartupAUS, the founder of Brisbane co-working community River City Labs, and the mission leader for Startup Catalyst. http://www.stevebaxter.com.au