Greetings from the Australian National University Commons in Canberra (which is so new it still has a "new car" smell) where Innovation ACT 2012 is being launched. This is an annual completion to encourage the commercialization of ideas. The event was started in 2008 by PHD students at ANU and now includes ANU, University of Canberra, the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT). Sponsors includes Fujitsu, Microsoft and the ACT Government.
Students and staff of the institutions form teams to develop an idea. The program
has a series of seminars to help the teams prepare a Business Plan, Marketing, sales and sales forecasts, Legal issues, Managing Growth and Exit strategy. The teams compete presenting pitches to expert panels. The first prize is $20,000. Also the ANU has a venture find to invest up to $1M on good ideas.
Some of the students participate as part of their formal program of study, but most are doing it just for the experience.
The Innovation ACT program has been improved over the years (previously I have mentored teams and talked at the event). However, one limitation remaining with the format is that attendance in person is required, thus excluding online students.