Media Release

Join us for the Entrepreneurial Thinker's Forum

Media release
24 May 2017

Students and local business owners are invited to attend the 'Entrepreneurial Thinker's Forum' with Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro, and Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE)
CEO, Nick Kaye on Friday 26 May 11.00am-12.00pm @TAFE NSW Cooma.

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

REGISTER NOW FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL THINKER’S FORUM

Students and local business owners are invited to attend an Entrepreneurial Thinker’s Forum, an inspirational morning tea and panel discussion with Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro, and Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) CEO, Nick Kaye.

The forum will be held this Friday, 26 May 2017, at the TAFE NSW Cooma Training Restaurant, The Snowy, and the event will focus on embracing entrepreneurship in the Monaro region, offering attendees the chance to find out what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, said this forum is an opportunity to empower and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs throughout NSW.

“This is a great event to help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and discover the potential benefits of starting their own business,” Mr Barilaro said.

The forum is hosted by the SSE, an unprecedented new partnership between 12 tertiary institutions across the state – all 11 NSW universities and TAFE NSW – and follows a series of successful forums already rolled out across the state.

Most recently, SSE visited the vibrant Western Sydney entrepreneurship community to sit down with Sherpa co-founder Ben Nowlan, while in March a fireside chat with Hootsuite founder and CEO Ryan Holmes at Sydney University was streamed to more than 30,000 people.

“The SSE is producing a new generation of entrepreneurs who will make a lasting contribution to our regional economies,” Mr Barilaro said.

When fully operational, at least 1,000 students each year will participate in SSE courses and activities during their degree or TAFE program, including students from the Monaro region.

SSE was established with a $25 million cornerstone investment by the NSW Government. To register for this free event click here.

MEDIA: Georgina Kentwell | Deputy Premier | 0427 206 308

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Founding Board announced for SSE

Media Release
16 February 2017

WORLD-LEADING SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL BOARD

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro today announced the inaugural board for the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), the prestigious new partnership between all 12 NSW tertiary institutions.

Media Release

February 16, 2017

WORLD-LEADING SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL BOARD
Link to PDF 

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro today announced the inaugural board for the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), the prestigious new partnership between all 12 NSW tertiary institutions.

The board will play a crucial role in shaping the academic framework for SSE members – all 11 NSW based universities and TAFE NSW – to deliver world-leading training, support and mentoring for students looking to establish and operate innovative businesses across NSW.

“The SSE board, led by Chairman Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright AM FTSE, brings together remarkable expertise in education, start-ups, innovation and small business to help create an innovation powerhouse for NSW, driving our economy and creating exceptional job opportunities,” Mr Barilaro said.

SSE was launched with a $25 million cornerstone investment by the NSW Government in 2016. Operations will commence this year with a ‘semester of events’ in Semester One 2017, including activities across rural, regional and metropolitan NSW. Launch of the Sydney campus and coursework is planned for Semester Two 2017.

NSW Vice Chancellor Committee Chair and SSE Board Member Professor Attila Brungs said: “The board will lead SSE’s operations and pave the way for dynamic input from our academic partners as well as the broader entrepreneurial community via entrepreneurs in residence, guest lecturers, mentors and extracurricular activities.”

TAFE NSW Managing Director Jon Black added: “TAFE NSW is delighted to join the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship. It will provide our students with direct access to the best in entrepreneurial education, strong connections with industry and build a powerful and diverse community across disciplines, locations and backgrounds. As a founding member of SSE, TAFE NSW is supporting the ambition of our rising entrepreneurial stars and will inspire the next generation of NSW entrepreneurs.”

Board Chairman Wainwright is currently Visiting Professor at the University of New South Wales and an Order of Australia recipient for his services to tertiary education and chemical engineering as a researcher and academic.

He is joined on the board by Dr Raji Ambikairajah, Professor Attila Brungs, Professor Kevin Hall, Professor Denise Kirkpatrick, Ms Fiona Pak-Poy and Ms Liane Sayer-Roberts.

Reporting to the board will be SSE CEO Nick Kaye, who most recently was the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship for a decade. Kaye’s tenure also saw the school build its world-class reputation for educating students who have gone on to extraordinary business success including three start-ups worth more than US$500m each.

When fully operational, SSE will provide access to practical training, support, mentoring and co-curricular activities for up to 1,000 high-performing students from a range of backgrounds, disciplines, demographics and locations from across NSW to enable them to collaborate and innovate in the development of new, innovative business ventures in NSW.

Founding academic partners of the school include Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University, Macquarie University, Southern Cross University, TAFE NSW, The University of Sydney, The University of Newcastle, University of New England, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong, UNSW Sydney and Western Sydney University.

Follow @SSENSW on Instagram and Twitter.

Ends.

See overleaf for biographies of Chair and Board Members


 

Biographies of Chair and Board Members

 

Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright AM FTSE
Chair – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Professor Mark Wainwright retired as Vice-Chancellor and President of UNSW in 2006 having held senior leadership roles there for 15 years. He has more than 25 years’ experience as chair and board member of co-operative ventures in higher education and industry sectors including numerous co-operative research centres.

Professor Wainwright holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from McMaster University, Canada and a DSc by research from the University of South Australia. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by UNSW and Mahanakorn University of Technology, Thailand.

Professor Wainwright is presently Chair, TAFE NSW Higher Education Governing Council; Chair, Intersect Australia; Chair, Smart Services CRC; Chair, Cancer Institute NSW Grants Program; and Independent Director, AARNet Pty Ltd. He is a member, Hong Kong Polytechnic University International Advisory Board and the International Academic Review Panel, Singapore Management University.

 

Dr Raji Ambikairajah
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Dr Ambikairajah holds a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering, as well as an Honours Degree in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of New South Wales.

She is presently the Chief Operating Officer for Women in Banking and Finance and prior to this role spent her career working in the technology start-up sector.

Before joining the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship’s Board of Directors, Dr Ambikairajah was Chair of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Sub-Committee of the Sydney Division in Engineers Australia, and Sub-committee Member of the Mentoring Committee of the Centre of Engineering Leadership & Management.

Dr Ambikairajah is currently a Board Member of UNSW Innovations and a Board Member of the Sydney Chamber Opera. She is also the Sydney Chapter Leader for global non-profit organisation, Room to Read.

 

 

 

Professor Attila Brungs
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Professor Attila Brungs is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Technology Sydney. He has previously held senior positions with the CSIRO and McKinsey & Company.

 

Professor Brungs is a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from Oxford University and a University Medal in Industrial Chemistry from the University of New South Wales.

 

Some of Professor Brungs’ present key appointments include the Federal Government Research Data Infrastructure Committee; the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council; Convenor, NSW Vice-Chancellor’s Committee; Deputy Chair, Universities Admissions Centre Board; Advisory Board Member for NSW Data Analytics Centre; the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association; and Chair, UniProjects. His experience includes many distinguished past board and committee memberships in addition to many other government and institutional appointments.

 

 

Professor Kevin Hall
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at The University of Newcastle, Professor Kevin Hall, has a unique blend of higher education and private sector leadership experience, and is a lifelong innovator.

He has been in his current role for three years and has held previous academic positions as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and External Partnerships, University of Guelph in Canada; and Head of School, Queen’s University, Canada.

Professor Hall has more than 25 years of industry leadership experience, including 22 years as CEO and President of HCCL Engineering. He was also the Founder and Board Chair of Pathogen Detection Systems, a start-up that successfully sold to a multinational company.

Professor Hall’s experience as an executive board member spans across 17 organisations in Canada and Australia, and he is currently a member of the Leadership Circle of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres. He is a member of the University Industry Innovation Network as well as a number of professional associations and Societies and is a Fellow of the New South Wales Royal Society.

 

 

Professor Denise Kirkpatrick
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Denise Kirkpatrick has been a senior academic in the field of education in Australia for 20 years with experience setting academic strategies in a variety of universities in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East.

Before joining the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship’s Board of Directors, Professor Kirkpatrick was a member of its Steering Committee and Interim Board of Directors.

Professor Kirkpatrick was conferred a Doctorate in Teaching and Learning from the Edith Cowan University, a Master of Education from the University of Western Australia.

Professor Kirkpatrick is presently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, Academic at the Western Sydney University.

She is also a member of the Senior Executive Group at Western Sydney University, as well as being Chair of the university’s Academic Planning and Course Approvals Committee. Professor Kirkpatrick is also a board member in joint venture and external partnership entities. She is convenor, NSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic group.

 

Ms Fiona Pak-Poy
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Fiona Pak-Poy has more than 20 years’ experience working with the start-up community as an investor, mentor, board member, and entrepreneur.

Ms Pak-Poy has held directorships including chair in multiple companies in Australia and the United States. She has also been an investment manager and partner in an Australian venture capital fund, and a councillor for the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCAL), as well as a board member of Adelaide Research and Innovation. Ms Pak-Poy is a former member of the Innovation Australia board.

Ms Pak-Poy has an Honours Degree in Engineering from the University of Adelaide, and a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

She is currently a Non-Executive Director for the Securities Industry Research Centre of Asia Pacific (SIRCA), iSentia Group Ltd (ASX:ISD) and MYOB (ASX:MYOB). Ms Pak-Poy is also a committee member for Innovation Australia’s Biomedical Translation Fund.

 

Ms Liane Sayer-Roberts
Board Member – Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

Liane comes to the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship’s Board of Directors from Sauce Communications, a public relations and events management company which works with organisations that are based in, represent, or need to reach audiences in rural and regional Australia. Liane established Sauce in 2004 in the rural town of Leeton NSW and over the past decade has grown the business from start-up status to include offices in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The company today has a national client base and has been named Australian Medium PR Agency of the Year for the past two years.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the communications industry in Australia and New Zealand, Ms Sayer-Roberts specialises in strategic counsel, crisis communications, and reputation management. Her dual practice is in delivering value for people and businesses in rural Australia, as well as ensuring regionally based practitioners have access to rewarding career paths, and are able to participate in forums that will assist their future.

Ms Sayer-Roberts has previously been a Director of Riverina Citrus and Riverina Regional Tourism, is a Telstra Business Women’s Award finalist and one of Emerald Grain and Fairfax Media’s Top 100 Women in Australian Agribusiness. She is member of the Women in Entrepreneurship initiative of the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro.

 

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Campus announced for SSE

Media Release
23 November 2016

SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ANNOUNCED AT TAFE NSW ULTIMO CAMPUS

Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, and Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, have announced TAFE NSW Ultimo campus as the location for the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE).

23 November 2016

SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ANNOUNCED AT TAFE NSW ULTIMO CAMPUS
Link to PDF

Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, and Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, have announced TAFE NSW Ultimo campus as the location for the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE).

The SSE is a unique partnership between 12 tertiary institutions (11 NSW universities and TAFE NSW) which was launched with a $25 million investment by the NSW Government.

“Innovation is the cornerstone of jobs growth in NSW and we are embedding the SSE in TAFE so skilled students and upcoming entrepreneurs can access education, information and networks, placing NSW in a leading position, not just domestically, but also internationally,” said Mr Barilaro.

The SSE will provide access to practical training, support and mentoring for up to 1000 students a year as part of their degree or TAFE course.

“The Sydney School of Entrepreneurship will become an innovation powerhouse for NSW, driving our economy and creating job opportunities,” said Mr Roberts.

SSE Chief Executive Officer, Nick Kaye, has returned to Australia to take up the role.

“The building and the school itself will create a bigger common stage and ideal conditions for a new generation of local entrepreneurs to thrive,” Mr Kaye said.

Founding academic partners include Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University, Macquarie University, Southern Cross University, TAFE NSW, University of Newcastle, University of New England, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University.

Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, Prof Andrew Vann, said: “Innovation is an increasingly important element of education and for universities in NSW to come together and be part of such a collaborative and ground-breaking initiative is a hugely positive and progressive move for the future of students and the state.”

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CEO announced for SSE

Media Release
18 July 2016

NICK KAYE RECRUITED FOR SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The NSW Government has secured the Executive Director of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, Nick Kaye, to head up the new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE).

18 July 2016

NICK KAYE RECRUITED FOR SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Link to PDF

The NSW Government has secured the Executive Director of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, Nick Kaye, to head up the new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE).

Mr Kaye has been Executive Director and CEO of the Stockholm School since 2005. The Stockholm School has a world class reputation of educating students who have gone on to extraordinary business success.

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the SSE will help transform our brightest university and TAFE students into founders of a new wave of high growth companies.

“To do that, we need the best people running the show, which is why Nick Kaye has been recruited to head up the SSE,” Mr Roberts said.

“Nick’s track record in Stockholm has been outstanding, especially considering some of his students graduated from the Stockholm School and went on to found companies worth more than a billion dollars.

“He holds a proven recipe for success which can be reproduced and expanded upon here in NSW to help create new businesses and new jobs, so it’s a major coup to have him on board.”

Minister for Skills, Regional Development and Small Business, John Barilaro, said the appointment of Nick is an excellent addition to the SSE which will help navigate the future of business and innovation in NSW.

“The SSE will connect TAFE students and business owners to international resources and knowledge to start up, scale up and innovate business,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This initiative will ensure businesses are exposed to international intelligence and counsel on business innovation, sustainability, and differentiation.

“SMEs are the engine room of jobs growth in NSW and the SSE will ensure endless opportunities for existing and prospective business owners as they create the jobs of the future, adding to the million jobs SMEs have created over the past six years.”

Mr Kaye said he was looking forward to bringing his skills and experience back to Australia.

“Graduates from Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship have set up businesses, from SMEs to billion-Euro ‘unicorns’, that have created thousands of jobs, and amazed Sweden and the world,” Mr Kaye said.

“The same ingredients for success that existed in Stockholm, exist in NSW – an amazing reservoir of talent, plus committed, forward-looking universities, colleges and business organisations, all eager to work together and with their eyes on the prize.

“I look forward to Australian Soundclouds and Klarnas coming out of the SSE and taking the world by storm. This is a great opportunity, for all of us.”

The SSE is a joint venture between NSW universities and TAFE NSW, funded by a $25 million grant from the NSW Government.

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Funding announced for SSE

Media Release
20 June 2016

NSW BUDGET: $25 MILLION FOR NEW SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

A new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) will be established with a $25 million investment aimed at placing NSW at the epicentre of entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific region.

20 June 2016

NSW BUDGET: $25 MILLION FOR NEW SYDNEY SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Link to PDF

A new Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) will be established with a $25 million investment aimed at placing NSW at the epicentre of entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific region.

The SSE will be a joint venture between NSW universities and TAFE NSW, and is supported by some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs.

The school will bring together high performing students from all disciplines to learn, collaborate and experiment as part of their undergraduate degree or TAFE course.

They will also receive the practical training, support and mentoring they need to kick start innovative businesses.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said the school would help further promote a culture of entrepreneurialism in NSW.

“Entrepreneurship is critical to driving innovation and that is why it’s so important we educate and encourage young people to create new businesses focused on the global market,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This School will foster collaboration and use the expertise within our world-class universities across a range of disciplines. We want to help create a critical mass of informed, dynamic and enthusiastic professionals with the practical skills required to thrive as an entrepreneur.

“The SSE will foster the emergence of small innovative companies with the potential for rapid growth – and that means job creation.”

The SSE is modelled on the esteemed Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship in Sweden – a country that has consistently outperformed almost every other on global innovation indices.

More than one-in-three graduates of the Swedish school have successfully launched startups, including two high-profile ‘unicorns’ (start-ups valued at more than $US 1 billion) such as Klarna, as well as the highly successful SoundCloud, ClocalNet,

Jaycut, Readmill, Tasteline and Videoplaza.

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the SSE will ambitiously pursue similar results.

“We know that 46 per cent of all startups in Australia are based in Sydney and NSW already accounts for 64 per cent of all tech startup activity across the nation. It is estimated the tech startup sector could be worth $109 billion to the national economy and create 540,000 jobs by 2033,” Mr Roberts said.

“The SSE will not only ensure we remain number one in the nation, it will put NSW at the epicentre of entrepreneurship in the region.”

It is expected about 1000 top students from partner universities and TAFE NSW – those identified as bright, energetic, creative and committed – will pass through the SSE each year.

Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, said the partnership between TAFE, universities and industry experts will prepare job ready students and ensure that students acquire skills that are central to building a workforce of the future.

“The SSE is about reshaping and reinvigorating the way we approach business in Australia,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We need to harness the creative and entrepreneurial spirit that exists in our young people so they can build the jobs of the future.

“It is particularly important that we make sure this opportunity is open to students from metropolitan and regional areas equally.”

It is anticipated the SSE will be up and running in 2017.

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In the Media

"Panel discussion with Nick Kaye, CEO SSE and Adrian Turner, CEO Data61"

ABC News
The Business
Alicia Barry
Friday 19 May 2017

"This week's jobs numbers show lower unemployment but that was thanks to more part time roles. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia must become an innovation nation".

Panel discussion with Nick Kaye, CEO SSE and Adrian Turner, CEO Data61

ABC News
The Business
Alicia Barry
Friday 19 May 2017

This week’s jobs numbers show lower unemployment but that was thanks to more part time roles. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia must become an innovation nation.

A panel discussion with Adrian Turner, CEO Data 61 and Nick Kaye, CEO Sydney School of Entrepreneurship – an unprecedented new partnership between 12 NSW tertiary institutions – talking about jobs and the importance of NSW building an entrepreneurial mindset and skills.

View the extended version here.

 

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"Sydney School of Entrepreneurship a millionaire factory in the making"

The Sydney Morning Herald
Catherine Armitage
Saturday 1 April 2017

"When the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship gets its first students in the second half of this year, there will be a new answer to the question (aside from IKEA, streaming service Spotify and screen siren Ingrid Bergman.)"

Sydney School of Entrepreneurship a millionaire factory in the making

The Sydney Morning Herald
Catherine Armitage
Saturday 01 April 2017

What has Stockholm ever done for us?

When the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship gets its first students in the second half of this year, there will be a new answer to the question (aside from IKEA, streaming service Spotify and screen siren Ingrid Bergman.)
Sydney School of Entrepreneurship students Rose Hartley and Lucy Hamblin have launched Project Huni to ease the ...

Sydney School of Entrepreneurship students Rose Hartley and Lucy Hamblin have launched Project Huni to ease the transition for high school students to university. Photo: Daniel Munoz

It all started when the NSW chief scientist Mary O’Kane, in Stockholm on business, invited Nick Kaye, Australian and then-CEO of the highly regarded Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, to give a breakfast seminar in Sydney.

You’d expect the head of an entrepreneurs’ school to do a pretty good sell job. But Kaye must have been sensational, because now, 14 months later, Sydney is getting a Stockholm equivalent with $25 million from the state government and Kaye as the founding CEO.

This was a “dream scenario”, says Kaye. He had “absolutely no thought” it might happen when he gave his breakfast talk. But now, “the eyes of the global entrepreneur community and startup community are on us”.

Anthony Roberts, the then NSW industry minister, and John Barilaro, then minister for skills, were at the breakfast, recounts Professor O’Kane. “Everyone said, ‘wouldn’t it be great to do it here?'”

In 19 years the Stockholm school has graduated 13,000 students. One-third of them have launched their own startups. Three have reached values over $US500 million. The Sydney school aspires to match that success – and beat it. “That’s his KPI,” jokes Professor O’Kane. “We will send him right back if he doesn’t do it.”

“We’ve got 12 members. It’s unprecedented on a global basis,” says Kaye, referring to the 11 NSW universities as well as TAFE NSW who are partnering in the venture. “Stockholm only had five, so 12 is a world first,” he says.

Sydney also plans for more students – at least 1000 a year, though “in fact I believe it will be more”, says Kaye.

Video and virtual technologies will be used to bring students together across distances. It will be “curated serendipity”, he says, so students from a range of backgrounds, disciplines, and places get experiences and interactions the individual institutions can’t provide. In classes, “we’ll see doctors sitting next to designers, viticulturalists, technologists, business students …”

Lucy Hamblin, 22, and Rose Hartley, 21, psychology students from Sydney University, intend to sign up. Last year they started Project Huni to ease the transition for high school students to university. They do workshops in high schools and offer a tool which helps students choose the best courses according to their interests rather than their ATAR, all the while building a networked community of ready-made mates for first year students, says Hamblin. In six months they’ve gathered 1600 students; they plan for 6000 by the end of the year.

“With the two of us not having any business background, being surrounded by people who can teach us those skills is so important,” says Hamblin.

“We have the big dream but we need the insider knowledge,” she says.

Stockholm is ranked number two in the world for successful tech startups, behind Silicon Valley. Innovation is a key factor in higher productivity to boost living standards, says Professor O’Kane. “Our wellbeing really turns on us being much more innovative,” she says. “This was a mechanism that seemed to be working really well in a country high up in the innovation ecosystem.”

The SSE will run events such as workshops, seminars, boot camps and intensive study tours, as well as academic modules courses for students from the partner institutions which will earn credit towards their degrees.

“We are trying to strengthen a community of rising stars. The idea is to move them along that journey a bit more quickly,” says Mr Kaye.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro says the SSE is “a very important initiative going forward for NSW because innovation is a cornerstone of jobs growth”.

“I am confident the SSE will develop into a cutting-edge entrepreneurial powerhouse drawing the best minds from all parts of the state which will place NSW in a leading position, not just domestically, but internationally,” Mr Barilaro says.

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"Entrepreneur school for the shining stars of NSW's universities and colleges"

Boss Magazine
Australian Financial Review
Michael Bailey
Wednesday 4 April 2017

"Nick Kaye created the environment where a $US700 million business was born. But that was 16,000 kilometres and a paint job away from the room where he meets BOSS one morning in March..."

Entrepreneur school for the shining stars of NSW’s universities and colleges

 Article online (subscription required)

Sydney School For Entrepreneurship CEO Nick Kaye hopes to repeat the magic that produced businesses worth more than ...
Image: Sydney School For Entrepreneurship CEO Nick Kaye hopes to repeat the magic that produced businesses worth more than $US500 million over the 11 years he ran the Stockholm version. Peter Rae

Nick Kaye created the environment where a $US700 million business was born. But that was 16,000 kilometres and a paint job away from the room where he meets BOSS one morning in March: the ground floor of an 1890s building in Ultimo, on the western fringe of the Sydney CBD. Exposed wires hang from the ceiling and smashed tiles cling to the walls. Pivot windows admit a hum of traffic from nearby Harris Street, and the floor is covered with taped-together plywood sheets to protect the cobblestone flooring.

Yet by August, this empty hall is supposed to be humming with students of every stripe, as the home of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), a $25 million bet by the NSW government that Kaye can repeat the magic that produced businesses worth more than $US500 million over the 11 years he ran the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship.

If he succeeds, Kaye could usher in a revolution in Australian entrepreneurship education which until now has taken place inside the business schools of universities – arguably too removed from reality – or in the do-or-die environs of start-up accelerators or angel investor networks, where failure can come at a hefty financial and emotional price.

By co-creating the Australian SSE with academia and business, Kaye hopes to temper those pitfalls while equipping “wantrepreneurs” with the best tools and experiences each world can offer.

Nick Kaye created the environment where a $US700 million business was born. But that was 16,000 kilometres and a paint job away from the room where he meets BOSS one morning in March: the ground floor of an 1890s building in Ultimo, on the western fringe of the Sydney CBD. Exposed wires hang from the ceiling and smashed tiles cling to the walls. Pivot windows admit a hum of traffic from nearby Harris Street, and the floor is covered with taped-together plywood sheets to protect the cobblestone flooring.

Alexander Ljung, co-founder and chief executive officer of SoundCloud.
Alexander Ljung, co-founder and chief executive officer of SoundCloud. Simon Dawson

Happy accident

In the sort of serendipitous event typical of start-up founders, Kaye never set out to run entrepreneurship schools.

The Melburnian was headed to London for a career in investment banking when he got lost in Stockholm on the way. He ended up becoming chief operating officer of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, not long after it had been established in 1998 as a collaboration between five Swedish education institutions, including the capital’s university and its school of economics.

When the chief executive officer left in 2005, Kaye saw it as an opportunity for the school to be run in a more entrepreneurial way.

“They were looking for another full professor to replace the CEO, but I managed to get in front of the chairman, whom I didn’t know well at the time, and argued the case for doing it differently,” he says.

Gary Vaynerchuk was an early investor in Twitter and Facebook.
Gary Vaynerchuk was an early investor in Twitter and Facebook. Supplied

A professor would inevitably be beholden to whichever institution they had associations with, Kaye pointed out, and pitched himself as an honest broker who could strengthen the school’s interdisciplinary and inter-institutional credentials, which were already revolutionising the way entrepreneurship was being taught.

“Our students have to be open to all positive influences in their start-ups and get top-level buy-in from their stakeholders, too. So what I was saying resonated with the board and they suggested I try running the place for the next six months.”

Kaye ended up being CEO for the next 11 years, during which time he rebuilt the Stockholm school on the collaborative, experience-focused model he has been asked to replicate in Sydney.

The Australian school’s curriculum is still being worked out with its partners, which include all 11 universities and TAFE in NSW. However, Kaye says curriculum is probably the wrong word to describe a learning experience that will rely as much on serendipity as it does on traditional coursework and assessments.

Patrick Grove: "I don’t believe the discipline, perseverance and mental strength to become a world-class entrepreneur ...
Patrick Grove: “I don’t believe the discipline, perseverance and mental strength to become a world-class entrepreneur can be taught.” Peter Braig

“We’ve got a blank canvas in terms of a physical space here today and a blank canvas in the sense that we’ll be supporting our students on their entrepreneurial journey in a myriad of ways,” Kaye says.

He hints that the basics such as how to pitch and run-throughs of the main methodologies for product development and business building will probably be there, but he wants to leave plenty of scope for surprises. “If someone in our network rings us and says their founder is flying in from San Francisco tonight, they’d love to come by and chat with a group of students for half an hour before dinner, I’ll make sure we facilitate that,” he says.

Big breakthroughs

The SSE will not enrol fee-paying students directly. Those who attend will be the brightest stars referred to the SSE by its 12 partner educational institutions, which will accredit any courses completed.

Professor Jana Matthews, director of the University of South Australia Centre for Business Growth, helps established ...
Professor Jana Matthews, director of the University of South Australia Centre for Business Growth, helps established business owners who want to scale up.

The business and engineering schools should not be the only sources for the 1000 students a year the SSE expects to tutor, Kaye adds.

“I want viticulturalists next to dentists next to designers and I want them to all work together,” he says. “All the research shows that teams with a low alignment of disciplines have more failures, but it’s also where you get the really big breakthroughs.”

Two of the big success stories out of Stockholm exemplify what Kaye hopes will happen in Sydney. The founders of Soundcloud, valued at $US700 million by its last funding round in 2014, passed through the Stockholm school years apart while they were studying different majors at the Stockholm School of Economics: marketing for Alexander Ljung and arts for Eric Wahlforss. The alumni network brought them together.

“Eric had graduated in 2005 but he would regularly return to give back. So in 2007 he saw Alex present at a pitching-cum-matchmaking event we held, didn’t much like the idea but saw something in him and the rest is history,” Kaye says.

Meanwhile, the whale that emerged during Kaye’s tenure was a payments front-end for e-merchants called Klarna that’s now worth north of $US2 billion ($2.6 billion).

Founders Sebastian Siemiatkowski and Niklas Adalberth presented an early version of their idea in a 2005 pitching competition at the school and came last. Worse, the school’s long-term benefactor, Stefan Persson of the H&M fashion empire, was among the judges.

However, the pair had attended long enough to know the school was not about picking winning business ideas, but building entrepreneurs’ ability to rapidly evolve and test new concepts, and understand whether they were gaining traction in the marketplace, Kaye says.

But can it be taught?

The very words “school of entrepreneurship” still turn off many in the early-stage business ecosystem, Kaye admits, especially when that school proudly boasts of its university buy-in.

This is, after all, a world who’s greatest heroes all dropped out of college: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison and so on. Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel will even pay you $US100,000 to drop out of school and start a company.

Early Twitter and Facebook investor Gary Vaynerchuk summed up this mindset last year, when I asked him to comment on University of Technology Sydney’s, then new, $43,000-a-year MBA of entrepreneurship (MBAe).

“Why would someone think that something that is clearly a talent, that has to be played out in the marketplace, could be taught? Do I think the $43,000 will make someone better – sure, but entrepreneurship is like a lottery,” he said.

“Purebred entrepreneurs wouldn’t go. If Mummy and Daddy are paying, sure, but it’s a bad bet to go into debt on it. I think you’d learn more going to work for somebody for free.”

The dropout dogma is not as pronounced in Australia, where university education is cheaper than in the US, but it does exist.

The country’s only technology billionaires, Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, met at UNSW but left when the lure of their fast-growing software business proved more compelling.

Courage and guts

BRW Young Rich Lister Patrick Grove, co-founder of iCar Asia and iProperty, who built his online classified fortune from Australia, says the secret to his success could not be learnt at university. “Anyone can be taught the basics of setting a vision, building a team, producing a budget and getting on their way to achieving it,” Grove told BOSS in 2015.

“But I don’t believe the discipline, perseverance and mental strength to become a world-class entrepreneur can be taught.

“Surviving and thriving when you have no money left in the bank and the end looks near is a skill few possess. Taking a small idea and having the courage and guts to build a world-class, billion-dollar business is not something you can read in a textbook and copy.”

A willingness to put one’s livelihood on the line is probably innate, admits Jana Matthews, whose Centre For Business Growth at the University of South Australia guides established business owners who want to scale up.

“But when you have the elements of strategic growth broken down for you – who are we, what’s our vision, who [is] our customer? – what seemed risky now seems manageable,” she says.

Likewise Liam Daley, who just graduated from the first cohort of MBAe students at UTS, has an answer for Vaynerchuk’s doubt about the value of the course. “It saved me at least six months in terms of refining my business plan, so that alone is probably my money back,” says Daley, who’s working on an app that offers delivery options for online checkouts.

Kaye is adamant everyone can benefit from entrepreneurship education, even if it helps them become an effective intrapreneur and more attractive to prospective employees.

“We’re about producing T-shaped people,” he says. “It’s not up to us to produce your deep vertical skill, our uni partners already have great engineering schools and medical schools and so on. But come to us and we’ll broaden the top of your ‘T’: your empathy, your communication skills, your ability to find the right talent, all the stuff you can’t run a business without.”

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