New Chief Student Entrepreneur steps up to launch Ventures

8 Mar 2019

The University of Queensland’s new Chief Student Entrepreneur, Josh Tambunan, has his work cut out for him as he knuckles down for his final year of study toward a double degree in electrical engineering and science.

He recognises that his entrepreneurial role -- announced this evening -- will be a demanding challenge along with his studies.

“But it will be so much fun, and it is such an honour,” Mr Tambunan said.

The role involves working in a variety of ways to inspire and mentor young innovators from all areas of the University, from first-year undergraduates right through to post-graduates and PhD candidates.

Mr Tambunan, who has developed a financial app, said he came into the role at an exciting time, just as UQ was launching a new university-wide push to bring its entrepreneurial and start-up activities under the UQ Ventures banner.

Alongside UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj AC this evening, Mr Tambunan launched UQ’s Entrepreneurship Strategy 2018-2022 – a university-wide initiative that embeds entrepreneurial learning across all disciplines and deepens engagement with local and global partners.

UQ Director of Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship Dr Jessica Gallagher said UQ innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives including Idea Hub, the Startup Academy and iLab would retain their identities, but the new strategy brought them together under the collective name Ventures.

“These activities complement the existing innovation strength of UniQuest, UQ’s commercialisation arm, which is a leader in translating research to impact,” Dr Gallagher said.

“To venture is to step fearlessly into the unknown, to challenge convention and to stand out from the crowd.

“We chose the name Ventures because it reflects the strong and well-known entrepreneurial spirit of the UQ community.

“We think this is really appropriate for this point in time. Students cannot predict the future, but through UQ Ventures they can develop knowledge, networks and skills that will allow them to pivot between current and emerging careers.

“These skills will allow them to flourish wherever they go in life.”

Dr Gallagher said students were supported at every stage of their “Ventures” journey, working alongside staff and alumni, and connecting with a wide range of global experts.

“The strategy has a strong multidisciplinary focus,” she said. “From flexing your creative muscles and learning design thinking, to launching a startup – Ventures will help you all the way.”

Mr Tambunan said he became involved in UQ’s suite of entrepreneurship programs in 2016.

“Really, I was looking for an alternative path to the one I was on,” he said.

His involvement in UQ’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society led to him taking part in the UQ Weekend of Startups, where he won first prize for best idea.

This gave him access to three months of ilab’s Germinate startup accelerator program, where he developed an online platform to help young people invest money sustainably.

After finishing the Germinate program, Mr Tambunan completed a four-week Idea Hub Startup Adventures internship in Shanghai, working with some of China’s best technology startups.

Mr Tambunan said he put his hand up to become Chief Student Entrepreneur because he wanted to support students who were seeking to engage beyond their immediate discipline, as he had.

“For those students who are struggling like I was back in the day with a mental block, I want to give back to them and the UQ community more broadly,” he said.

“I want to say to them, here are the opportunities, and here’s how you can really make something of yourself!”