Welcome to our 2019-20 Annual Report
In 2019-20, we were driven by creating impact across a range of new and reimagined activities.
Navigate the report using the links below and thanks for being a part of our diverse community of change-makers.
See how we're supporting a diverse mix of inspiring individuals and organisations.
"In a year of immense change, the skills of entrepreneurship and innovation are needed more than ever to help upskill the community and support the recovery of the state.
SSE has risen to the challenges of these unprecedented times, working across diverse locations and institutions to equip individuals and organisations with the tools and mindset they need to forge their path forward."
Together with our colleagues, stakeholders, community, students and others across the ecosystem, we stand united in our commitment to improving opportunity for all.
True to its core mission, SSE continues to grow entrepreneurial capabilities and innovative mindsets, inspiring hundreds of people every semester. We’ve helped upskill more than 14,000 participants since 2017 and built a growing network of collaborative connections across the state and beyond our borders.
More than 200 students from 11 New South Wales universities and TAFE NSW joined our short courses this year; over 7000 participants enrolled in our Virtual Internship Program, helping to grow the entrepreneurial pipeline; and over 70 students participated in our inaugural Discovery program, developing innovative solutions to real-world problems.
In a dramatically changed learning environment, prioritising the student experience and creating an exceptional learner journey were key to our success this year. Our reimagined virtual Units of Study provided an immersive online environment and our expert facilitation team, including talented SSE alumni, delivered an enhanced personal experience for all students. This approach increased completions in our final S1 2020 unit of study by nearly 20% on our all-time average.
Programs such as SSE’s Virtual Internship Program (VIP) continued to deliver impact across the breadth and depth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, helping to grow startup talent and inspiring innovative problem-solving.
Nearly all (93%) of those who completed VIP said that they had been inspired to take the first steps in creating their own business or working within a newly-established firm.
The success of this partnership with the Sydney Startup Hub not only shows what is possible through collaboration but demonstrates the strength of the state’s startup ecosystem.
Work is already underway to deliver new programs that continue our mission to uplift skills capability and drive the next generation of entrepreneurship. We are working hard to make opportunity accessible to even more people, including high-school students, intrapreneurs, career-changers, those impacted by COVID-19 and regional communities.
Diversity is the bedrock of great innovation and SSE remains committed to building opportunities for under-represented groups.
In 2019, we collaborated on a number of events to boost female participation in entrepreneurship and innovation and more than half of our short course students were women. We also continue to advance our strategy to work with First Nations communities to build greater opportunities for Aboriginal people across the state.
As 2019 came to a close, we said farewell to our founding Chair Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright, who made an immense contribution to the success of our organisation and inspired a broad network of SSE advocates. We were very lucky to have Mark as our inaugural Chair and would like to thank him for his dedication, hard work and commitment to SSE.
As we continue to drive the evolution of SSE, we are delighted to have such strong support from you—our ecosystem partners, collaborators, advisors and champions.
This year has demonstrated that building resilience and adaptability are more important than ever. As we continue to move forward in uncertain times, we look forward to finding innovative solutions to new problems and amplifying our collective impact together.
In a rapidly changing world, building resilience, creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset are key to continued growth and sustainable success.
See how we’re helping develop a culture of life-long learning and boosting the capacity of our participants and community across a range of industries.
Our Units of Study and short courses are the start of an innovation journey. Designed in collaboration with the 11 NSW universities and TAFE NSW, our units give participants highly sought-after skills in innovation, design thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, networking and entrepreneurship.
In 2019-2020, 212 students completed SSE's Units of Study.
Jacob Lescove-Uduwalage SSE alum and co-founder of Unicornshift
I went from having no mentors to having a group of about 20 or so coaches and mentors who I can reach out to for advice and support
2019-20 Units of Study
Sophie Klecha SSE alum from the University of Newcastle
Being from a rural town, people just think that getting into innovation and entrepreneurship is unachievable, but it’s not.
Adapting our units in 2020
In response to the global pandemic in 2020, SSE accelerated implementation of its new digital-first strategy and brought its learning activities fully online.
Our reimagined units focused on meaningful interactions in an online environment that immerse participants in the world of innovation and applied entrepreneurship.
Discovery is SSE's innovation program, tailored to the needs of forward-thinking educators and businesses to rapidly upskill staff, students or community members.
The program can be deployed to fit the needs of any organisation, helping boost staff skills, enhance student learning or solve a real problem.
Led by our Director, Entrepreneurship Emily Chang, Discovery is designed and taught by a diverse range of expert practitioners. Our team employs the latest in entrepreneurial learning techniques to deliver impactful outcomes and support participant success.
Daniel Smith SSE Entrepreneur Facilitator, alumni and serial entrepreneur
I think the key skill is to be ever-changing. The skill of figuring out what you actually need to learn is a hard one but one that is necessary for the fast-changing world.
Hear what our Macquarie University Bachelor of Arts students have to say
Unleash your creative potential with Discovery
- Creative minds
- Aspiring entrepreneurs
- Anyone who wants to change the world for the better
Bring new ideas to life and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems.
"I would highly recommend this to anyone. The skills learned are vital to success in broader life, no matter what field you’re in."
"The program provided an opportunity to really assess the kind of impact I hope to make out in the world"
Available at no cost to all Macquarie Bachelor of Arts students
Launched in July 2019, SSE's Virtual Internship Program is helping thousands of students from NSW and around the world to develop the practical skills they need to work in a startup (or launch their own!).
1,000+ signups in the first six weeks
7,000+ participants in the first year
10,000+ participants to date
Of participants who have completed the program:
SSE is committed to helping diverse individuals and cohorts create their own future with a range of new professional development programs and learning activities.
We collaboratively partner with leading organisations from a range of industries to equip participants with the entrepreneurial skills, approaches and mindsets they need to take the next step.
Building the Virtual Industry Placement Program and Catalyst
Welcome to SSEQuad, our new online education environment!
Developed in partnership with learning management company Guroo Producer, SSEQuad provides a seamless experience for students that can be customised to fit the needs of a broad range of clients.
SSEQuad is a creative, interactive learning environment that is easy to navigate, intuitive and allows for action-based learning. It will be deployed for all future SSE learning activities to provide the highest-quality student experience
In 2020, we will roll out the first stage of our professional development Entrepreneurial Educator Program with the NSW Department of Education.
In this program, teachers from across NSW are given the unique opportunity to develop skills in creativity, problem-solving, adaptability and innovation, as they work on projects specific to them.
Through the program, teachers learn how to identify a problem, create new ideas, develop a solution and tell their story.
With the support of our expert facilitation team, teachers work together on an innovation project, and leave the program with entrepreneurial tools that they can apply in the classroom and pass on to their students.
We are also developing new programs to support high school students in 2020-21, partnering with Spark Festival to boost entrepreneurial education capabilities across the state and working with a number of schools in NSW to drive entrepreneurial education among their cohorts.
Lauren Goritsas Entrepreneurial Educator Program participant and teacher at Sydney Secondary College
“[EEP was] such a great opportunity to build connections and networks. My entrepreneurial spark is lit, the fire has ignited, and it will continue to burn bright.”
SSE is Sydney in name only and we remain committed to boosting innovation across the state in regional and rural areas.
From left to right: Jillian Kilby (The Exchange), Emily Chang (SSE) and Hugh Taylor (UNE Smart Region Incubator)
In August 2020, SSE will partner with the University of New England’s Smart Region Incubator and The Exchange in Dubbo to create a learning experience that supports development of digital capabilities for staff working across the NSW public sector.
Emily Chang (SSE) and Jillian Kilby (The Exchange) will design and deliver six-hour online facilitated workshops to support regionally-based public servants to better understand local customers’ needs and design better, simpler ways of meeting their challenges.
Through these workshops, participants will gain a set of takeaway tools and direct experience in applying human-centred design methodology in their work and form a community of practice that can continue to support their learning and development.
SSE is committed to supporting women in an area where they are often under-represented.
In late 2019, we partnered with International Connector and the University of Technology Sydney for the Future of Women in Tech event.
Supported by the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, the event helped co-design solutions to boost female participation in technology and entrepreneurship, which were shared at workshops around the country.
In 2020, we are continuing to design programs to empower female entrepreneurs.
Rose Lewis WSU student and SSE alum
The confidence that SSE gave me really changed things for me. People underestimate themselves, but every person is capable of making change. SSE helped me to believe that for myself.
SSE is committed to supporting individuals and organisations within the ecosystem to adapt and thrive in times of immense change.
Emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can help create resilient businesses and skills in these technologies are essential for resilient careers.
That's why, in July 2020, SSE is partnering with AI innovation experts David Goad and Steve Blunt to equip over 300 participants from Transport for NSW with the skills, mindset and capabilities they need to solve complex problems with these advanced technologies and approaches.
More new professional development and innovation capacity-building programs will be coming online in 2020-21, including partnerships with NSW councils to support the growth of innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurial skills, as well as collaborations with our education and corporate partners.
David Goad AI expert and facilitator of SSE Innovation in AI masterclass sessions
I hear the concern all the time that AI is replacing jobs and will create broad-based unemployment. It isn’t and it won’t. What AI does is automate tasks.
Supporting the community
Our diverse community continues to grow as we collaborate and connect across the ecosystem.
This year, we launched the SSE Innovation Community on LinkedIn, which has already welcomed 200 alumni, experts, founders and educators.
We are also providing pathways for our alumni and students to gain practical experience and join our facilitation team, through an SSE facilitator training program currently in development.
Over the next year, we are focused on welcoming new cohorts through our professional development programs, including our micro-credentialled short courses, a new capstone program and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.
And, as always, we look forward to celebrating the successes of our alumni and participants as they continue to make their mark on the world.
From the leaders on our boards and committees to our talented team, accomplished Brains Trust and inspiring alumni, our community drives everything we do.
Emily Chang Director, Entrepreneurship
"I believe entrepreneurship empowers people to embrace change and the possibility of a better future.
Lucas Hakewill Growth Program Lead
I see entrepreneurship as a creative endeavour. You create, test, and shape something completely new.
Frances Lee Director, Operations
I was attracted to working for an organisation that’s got a startup feel with a great bunch of people who are not afraid of tackling the implementation of the next idea/program.
Krithika Ramakrishnan Information and Business Systems Support Officer
I’m excited to be working with a talented and passionate team and contributing to the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in NSW.
Welcome also to the newest member of our Advisory Board, Maryam Tabari. Maryam brings a wealth of experience working in the university commercialisation sector to SSE.
We would also like to thank outgoing board and committee members:
Emeritus Professor Mark Wainwright AM, Former Chair and Independent Director
John Rohan, Independent Director
Raji Ambikairajah, Independent Director
Denise Kirkpatrick, Member Representative