The INCUBATE Program has developed from an idea pitched by two entrepreneurial students back in 2012, to be an award-winning early-stage startup accelerator program, launching over 60 startups at The University of Sydney thanks to funding from the University of Sydney Union (USU) and INCUBATE Program Partners and Supporters
Do you have a question about applying for INCUBATE or other on-campus entrepreneurial activities or events? If you can’t find the answer below in our FAQ then please contact us
The INCUBATE Program is about growing your contacts, knowledge and skills to build a successful technology-based startup idea. The variety of ideas that have come through the program is huge; from clever keyboards, health and well being aids, sunglasses you can’t lose, genetic profiling, social and community apps, to drones, education, HR and financial transactions. We welcome applications from technical and non-technical founders.
A startup is a fledgling business creating a product or service based on technological innovation. A startup is not a small version of a larger company. Startups are often doing something completely new and thus are searching for a repeatable and scalable business model, with the potential for global impact.
A Founder is the person, or the entrepreneur, who came up with the startup. There can be more than one Founder, known as Co-Founders. Ideally they bring different skill sets to the team. We often see two Co-Founders where one might have a technical background, such as a software engineer, and one might have a non-technical background such as marketing or sales. However, we encourage anyone who is applying to understand what skills they’re lacking in the team and have a plan to recruit someone into the team to fill that skill-gap.
What is INCUBATE?
INCUBATE is a startup accelerator program. The startup businesses accepted into the program are usually very early stage, often they will not have any customers or a even a product. INCUBATE is the first step in your business development. During the 14 week accelerator program you can build and shape your business direction based on what you learn in our workshops, and from the Business Mentors that we connect you with. We don’t take equity (or a financial share) of your business. We do take an advisory fee if you raise investment in the first 2 years. For Founders, INCUBATE is a full-time commitment for the 14-weeks of the Program.
I have an idea for a business. How can INCUBATE help me?
Firstly, get started. Don’t wait until you get accepted in to INCUBATE. We will ask you what progress you have already made on building your business. If you don’t believe strongly enough in your idea to talk to people about it and take action, then why should we believe you have what it takes to build a business?
Often the first steps we recommend for founders is to investigate their market and conduct interviews with potential customers to better understand the problem you think you’re solving.
If you would like to talk to the team in person we’re available for a first chat and general startup advice. Please book in a time.
I don’t think my idea fits the INCUBATE criteria, are there any alternatives?
Yes. While we encourage creativity in all students, INCUBATE is designed to help entrepreneurs building something innovative which will be the basis of a new business. University of Sydney students with creative ideas which don’t fit INCUBATE criteria are encouraged to apply to USU Bright Ideas.
INCUBATE welcomes applications to co-host guest speakers and events on entrepreneurship with organisations on and off campus through the our SparkX Program.
I want to apply! Am I eligible?
For the Accelerator Program, you or a co-founder/core member on your team must be a current student, researcher, staff or alumnus from The University of Sydney.
For Proto and Mentoring, you must be a current student, researcher, staff or alumnus from The University of Sydney.
For SparkX, the event must be held on-campus at the University of Sydney and promotes entrepreneurship, innovation and/or technology.
See programs page for more info.
I want to apply! What are the main things I should think about?
INCUBATE is not a course or an assessment. It is not a business pitching competition. You will not be marked on your achievements.
Startups have been known to apply to INCUBATE multiple times before they are accepted. Don’t feel you have to be perfect, or have all the answers before you apply. If you have a big idea, you’ve spoken to some people or potential customers about it, got some feedback you can use, then we can help you find ways to build it.
How much commitment is required?
The accelerator program requires a full-time commitment from all founders, we expect to see four full days a week. Attendance to all program workshops and meetings are mandatory.
Proto requires a minimum commitment of 3 – 4 hours a week.
This is your business you’re working on and your commitment to your business is detrimental to its success. We find that founders who commit full-time to their startups progress faster and has a higher rate of success.
INCUBATE Accelerator – The essentials
The accelerator program is where you work on your business for 14 weeks and be pushed to achieve your goals. You will be supported by access to workshops, mentors, office space and money. INCUBATE is real life business building. At INCUBATE, you don’t ‘tick boxes’, you spend the time building your startup and developing it into a money-making growth organisation that you are driving.
I’m a researcher or Postdoctoral Student. Can I apply?
INCUBATE strongly encourages entrepreneurial researchers passionate about bringing their invention and innovations to apply in the real world.
Key attributes we look for in researchers:
Staff and students working on University-owned IP may also be eligible to apply for up to $50k Proof-of-Concept funding from Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships (CDIP). If you are interested in this route, you can apply with CDIP here. INCUBATE works closely with CDIP on any startups that utilise University IP, to assist them in coordinating licensing and commercialisation discussions with The University of Sydney.
Can I work for an INCUBATE Startup?
Yes. If you want gain work experience or you are looking for a job in a startup, register your skills and interest here
I’m a sole founder with no technical skills, but I have a great Idea. Should I still apply?
Yes. We welcome startup founders with limited technical skills but we want to see them become experts in their industry area and have a plan for building their first product within the program time frame.
What happens when the 14-week program finishes?
The end of the 14 week accelerator program leads to Demo Day. There you will ‘pitch’ or present on stage to an audience of 250+ investors, students, peers and business advisors. Your pitch may be to ask for investment, or for members to join your advisory board, or another ‘ask’ that you will decide in collaboration with INCUBATE.
After you leave the Incubate Program we will assist you to find a co-working space to move into.