Startups, start your engines for Macquarie University’s incubator

Nicole Bittar

If you’re an early or advanced startup, regardless of your industry or enterprise, the Macquarie University Incubator could be the answer to your ambitions. 

Macquarie University’s Director of Incubation and Entrepreneurship, Melissa Ryan, says the Incubator has been set up by the university to support entrepreneurial endeavours, not just for students and alumni, but for the broader community. This offers a unique point of difference from many university incubators. 

“Every Incubator has a connection to the place in which they sit and are often reflective of the needs of the community — and economic diversity of the region,” Melissa says.  

“Located in Macquarie Park, we’re seeing more med-tech and biotech companies. And we’ve also been given another 2,000 square metres, which includes office space for security-first startups and laboratory assets to support biotech and med-tech companies.” 

In fact, the Macquarie University Incubator sits within Macquarie Park which is on track to becoming the fourth largest economy in Australia, trailing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Melissa notes. 

About 109 startups have gone through the six-month educational program since the incubator’s inception in 2017 — before deciding whether to continue their development journey. 

However, “incubating them is very important because it gets them through that difficult time,” Ms Ryan says. “Once you’ve validated something and even when you get your initial investment, it still takes a long time for some companies to commercialise.” 

Having a partner like a university on their side is often the difference between liftoff and stagnation — “the halo effect”, as Ms Ryan describes it, “which is very valuable”. 

The good news for big thinkers is that the Macquarie University Incubator is open to applications for its 2023 cohort. 

So, what are the incubator’s decision makers looking for? Ms Ryan is quick to point out its “focus on the founder”. 

“We’re not there to determine whether an idea’s going to work or not,” she says. “But we look for open and learner mindset; we look for people who are willing to contribute to the ecosystem with their skills and knowledge and are open to listening to other people’s opinions and feedback. Without that, we can’t really ‘tango’, if you like.” 

The incubator’s overarching aims are your bright ideas and the impact they can make on the community. It prides itself on economic diversity and increasing Australia’s capacity to develop the new businesses of the future. 

In terms of its cohort diversity, tech/industry and stage-agnostic standpoint and the fact that the Incubator is open to all, how does the incubator achieve these aims? 

“It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship in that we both have to be engaged,” Ms Ryan says.

“We don’t get any equity in these companies; it is purely for the university’s reputation; it’s for the university’s engagement with the entrepreneurs, so that we can build a bridge between the entrepreneurs who are really wonderful at leveraging business ideas with our researchers — who are really good at discovery and developing the ‘new’.”  

From a student perspective, the incubator also provides the opportunity to work with real startups and effectively start their career paths. 

If applicants succeed to the next level, what’s in it for them — and for the Macquarie University Incubator? 

“We conduct an onboarding session, so we make sure all of our startups understand what the program is about in more detail; they understand the expectations that we have of them — and you can never underestimate how many times you have to repeat those (objectives); and that’s a critical aspect … if you want things to work out,” Ms Ryan says. 

Successful applicants can look forward to comprehensive mentoring, educational and professional support — with a showstopping introduction viewed from an “Indigenous Lens”. 

“The (welcome session) is delivered by an Elder about how indigenous Australians view the world around them and how everything is equal and connected,” Ms Ryan says. “And how you have a responsibility to country, plants, animals and people.” 

This outlook is reflected in potential incubator candidates. 

“We’re very conscious of the companies that we do support. We want them to be very conscious of what lies around them and the impact their company will have on people and planet. That’s a critical aspect — and we think the indigenous culture is perfect for kicking off our program, because they’re all about that.” 

So, if you’re trying to build something new, push boundaries, connect with original ways of thinking, and even share the trying times and don’t know where to go next, the Macquarie University Incubator is the place to seek support, guidance and future development for your grand plans. 

Find all information regarding the Incubator and it’s application process here: 

This article was produced by in partnership with Macquarie University Incubator. 

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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