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VU backs start-ups as driver of Australia’s future

The VU Hanger team
The VU Hanger team

Victoria University’s growing focus on entrepreneurship has been backed by a new study showing 80 per cent of Australia's start-up founders are university graduates, and that universities strongly contribute to expanding the digital economy.

The Universities Australia Startup Smarts Report forecasts that start-ups will create more than half a million jobs over the coming 20 years, and have already contributed more than $160 billion to the Australian economy.

The VU Hanger

VU's recently launched start-up hub, the VU Hanger, helps not only VU students and staff, but – uniquely among Australian universities – anyone in the local community looking for start-up mentoring, or advice on improving an existing business.

While it’s still early days, The VU Hanger has become a meeting place for the west’s growing community of entrepreneurs, helping launch more than a dozen start-ups already. Start-up projects include FoodPost, a meal delivery service from Footscray restaurants to VU campuses that was the brainchild of a VU student.

Entrepreneurs in residence

Three ‘entrepreneurs in residence’ launched the Hanger at VU at MetroWest in the heart of Footscray last year. They are now providing their services from a renovated shipping container at VU’s Footscray Park Campus.

The trio bring complementary skills to the project, and offer start-up schools to unearth ideas of budding entrepreneurs. Gus Balbontin, former Lonely Planet publishing executive, brings corporate knowledge. Thomas Anbeek, founder of the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, knows first hand how a start-up succeeds. And Jordan Gianfrancesco rounds off the entrepreneurial nous with grassroots business acumen.

The group decided that stimulation, rather than incubation or acceleration of start-up business, was the best concept for The VU Hanger, and that its focus should be much broader than the university.

“No university is doing this. We’re here to stimulate ideas of literally anyone who wants to start thinking in an innovative way,” said Gus.

More containers are planned for locations around Melbourne’s west in the near future.

West Hack event

VU Hanger’s next event is West Hack, a full day of sharing ideas and pitching to judges for prizes.

If you're interested in starting a venture and meeting like-minded people, this is your chance to take part in an inspiring and informative event.

When: Friday 24 March.

Where: Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus.

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