Startup Year

The Australian Government has established Startup Year to support students’ participation in startup courses at Australian higher education providers, which will encourage innovation and support Australia’s startup community, including social innovation and community-based entrepreneurship.

The Government has established a new income contingent loan program to support student participation in Startup Year courses (also known as accelerator program courses) delivering up to 2,000 loans a year to recent graduates, postgraduate and final year undergraduate students through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

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Startup Year will commence with a targeted pilot to test aspects of program design, gauge student demand, assess providers’ capacity to deliver the program, and give providers time to develop and accredit their accelerator courses prior to the full rollout of the initiative. In undertaking a pilot, the Department will select providers who can help establish the program by bringing additionality in course offerings, innovation in course delivery, ability to tailor courses to meet the needs of underrepresented groups and to add to the startup year ecosystem through geographic and participant diversity.

Expression of Interest

The Department of Education (the Department) has called for expressions of interest for participation in the Startup Year pilot. Australian universities and university colleges can submit an expression of interest here: Expression of Interest must be submitted by 11.59pm AEST Sunday 27 August 2023.

The Department will undertake a two stage process for the allocation of STARTUP-HELP places. The first stage is an initial expression of interest with shortlisted applicants invited to present a full application in stage two.

Providers are asked to consider their expression of interest based on the draft Startup Year Provider Handbook. The Provider Handbook and the STARTUP-HELP Guidelines will be finalised prior to the second stage of the application process.

If you have any questions regarding the Startup Year Expression of Interest process, please email


For answers to frequently asked questions about the Startup Year program, including questions asked at the online Expression of Interest (EOI) Information Session held by the Department of Education on 17 August 2023, please see Startup Year FAQs.

Startup Year Working Group

The Department has established a Startup Year Working Group to monitor the implementation and operation of the Startup Year program and advise the Department throughout the pilot.

This expert Working Group will also assist the Department in the expression of interest process. The expert group will be available to support those providers who are successful at the expression of interest stage to develop and design their proposed courses.

Startup Year Consultations

On Thursday 29 September 2022, the Australian Government announced the commencement of the Startup Year consultation process. You can find the Media Release on the Ministers Media Centre.

Consultation paper

The Department of Education sought Stakeholders’ views on the development of the Startup Year program.

Interested parties were invited to contribute their perspectives on the development of the program, including program eligibility and design. The issues, rationale, and proposed design elements of the program are set out in the Consultation Paper

Submissions closed on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

Student Survey

The Department of Education sought views from current students and recent graduates, as potential Startup Year program participants, to better understand how this program should be designed to best meet the needs of students with an idea they want to explore.

The Student Survey closed on Tuesday 15 November 2022.

What you told us

The Department received 38 submissions in response to the Startup Year consultation paper of these:

  • 27 were from university peaks, higher education providers and accelerators
  • <6 were from industry representatives and accelerators>
  • 4 were from individuals
  • 1 was from a government agency.

In addition to the consultation paper, the Department met with over 60 people from across the university sector, industry, venture capital and industry-accelerators as well as students and former accelerator participants in a series of meetings and roundtables.

A further 530 students and recent graduates responded to the Startup Year Student Survey.View the summary of results from the Student Survey.

Startup Year Student Survey Results



Survey responses


Interested in creating or joining a startup in the future


Interested in participating in a university accelerator program

83% of those interested in creating and/or joining a startup

Would take out a HELP loan to participate in a university accelerator program

58% of those interested in creating and/or joining a startup

Would expect to pay $6,000 of less for a program

<62% of those who would take out a HELP loan

Types of support students would like to have

  • mentors
  • business skills development
  • access to facilities
  • access to capital

Consultations identified key issues and opportunity areas, drawing on the insight and expertise of universities, accelerators, industry, venture capital, students, government, and the broader startup and innovation ecosystem.

Throughout the consultation process, several key themes emerged that aligned across the different stakeholder groups:

  • Startup Year should foster the skills and capabilities required to boost the innovation pipeline
  • University-industry collaboration is essential
  • Loan prioritisation should include both equity and access, particularly for traditionally underrepresented groups.

You can read submissions made to the consultation paper on Startup Year.

Please note, only those who elected to have their submissions made public have been provided.