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.

On this page:

About the program

Startup Year courses (also known as accelerator program courses) enhance and develop student skills, capabilities, and networks, and will foster greater levels of entrepreneurialism and talent within the Australian innovation ecosystem.

To support students to participate in Startup Year courses, the Government has established a new income contingent loan program delivering up to 2,000 loans a year to recent graduates, postgraduate and final year undergraduate students through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) called STARTUP-HELP.

The Startup Year initiative also extends eligibility for income support (such as Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY) to students who participate in a Startup Year course, access a STARTUP-HELP loan, and meet other eligibility requirements.

Startup Year will prioritise support for First Nations Australians, people with disability, and women, along with startups solving regional and rural issues, ensuring there is increased engagement from people from these important groups.

More information about the Startup Year application process will be available through the universities in 2024.

For further information on STARTUP-HELP assistance, including eligibility requirements for students please visit: https://www.studyassist.gov.au/help-loans/startup-help.

Pilot

Startup Year is commencing with a targeted pilot in 2024 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.

The Department of Education (the department) conducted a merit-based expression of interest process for the allocation of STARTUP-HELP places in the pilot, and selected providers that will help to establish the program by bringing additionality in course offerings, innovation in course delivery, and the ability to tailor courses to meet the needs of underrepresented groups and add to the startup year ecosystem through geographic and participant diversity.

The following 11 universities have been selected to deliver Startup Year courses as part of the pilot in 2024:

  • Charles Sturt University
  • Curtin University
  • Flinders University
  • La Trobe University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • The University of Queensland
  • University of New England
  • Western Sydney University.

In designing and delivering their Startup Year courses and selecting students to participate, providers must comply with the relevant requirements under the Higher Education Support Act 2003, the Higher Education Support (Administration) Guidelines 2022, the Higher Education Provider Guidelines 2023 and the Higher Education Support (STARTUP-HELP) Guidelines 2023. Many of these requirements are summarised in the Startup Year Provider Handbook

Startup Year Working Group

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

The Working Group membership is comprised of:

  1. Dom English, First Assistant Secretary, Research Division, Department of Education (Chair)
  1. James Alexander, Co-Founder and Partner, Galileo Ventures
  1. Professor Rowena Barrett, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Entrepreneurship, Queensland University of Technology
  1. Libby Briggs, Project Manager, Scale Investors
  1. Dr Dee Halil, Programs Director, Australian Technology Network of Universities
  1. Dean Moss, Chair of the Group of Eight Universities Innovation and Commercialisation Group, and CEO of UniQuest
  1. Sandra Roussel, General Manager, Commercialisation, Department of Industry, Science and Resources
  1. Leonore Ryan, Director of Incubator and Accelerator Programs, University of Tasmania
  1. Chandra Sundareswaran, Director, Centre for Learning Enterprise and Partnerships, Curtin University
  1. Tony Surtees, Chair of Australian Government Entrepreneurs Programme Committee
  1. Julie Trell, Founder & Chief Play Officer, Playful Purpose
  1. Alec Webb, Executive Director, Regional Universities Network
  1. John Wellard, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Universities Australia
  1. Jaynaya Winmar, Managing Director, Essential Services Australia

Startup Year Consultations

For information on the Startup Year consultation process, please see Startup Year Consultations.

Further information

More information about the Startup Year application process will be available through the universities in 2024.

For answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Startup Year program, please visit the Startup Year FAQs.

If you have a question that is not addressed in the FAQs, please contact Startup.Year@education.gov.au