A brief history of Ventures

20 November 2019

Entrepreneurship and innovation are not new to UQ. As a global top 50 university and a leading teaching and research institution, UQ has a long history of creating and applying knowledge, and we continue to evolve.


In 2012, the University assumed operational responsibility for ilab. ilab was originally established by the Queensland Government as one of the first incubators in Australia. It has significant networks nationally and internationally, and the team now runs one of the most active accelerator programs in the country.

Initially, ilab partnered with UQ commercialisation company, UniQuest, before expanding into the university and on to the St Lucia campus in 2016 to enhance the focus on UQ’s student, research and alumni founders. ilab has supported over 200 startup companies, who have in turn raised over $75 million in funding, and brings that rich history, experience and networks to the benefit of UQ’s broader community.

Idea Hub

Concurrently, Idea Hub was initially established by the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology before moving to the Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship Office as a place for students across all faculties to build their entrepreneurial skills. With a range of extra-curricular activities since 2015, Idea Hub now includes programs for women and PhD scholars, a social enterprise programsecondary school outreach and overseas startup adventures in places such as Shanghai, Singapore, San Francisco and Tel Aviv. 

Idea Hub partners with the UQ student society for innovation and entrepreneurship on the annual Weekend of Startups, and appointed the first UQ Chief Student Entrepreneur and Ventures Entrepreneurship Ambassadors.  Participation in Idea Hub programs has more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, with over 4000 program participants including over 1500 students in the first six months of 2019 alone.

Startup Academy

The Startup Academy was developed by the UQ Business School and a pilot run in 2018. The Startup Academy employs Lean Launchpad approaches to enable participants to validate the fit between their ideas and market needs while developing a business model for their product or service. The process is suitable for the launch of a business, an app, or a social venture. 

The logistics management for the Startup Academy moved into the Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship Office in 2019, with continuing academic support through the UQ Business School.

UQ Innovate

Also in 2019, through the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, UQ launched Australia’s biggest university makerspace, UQ Innovate. The new facilities make up the largest space of its kind in Australia with a 1200 square metre workshop housing advanced manufacturing and prototyping tools and machines including 3D printers, vacuum formers, industrial robots and waterjet cutters.

Entrepreneurship Strategy

Strong student interest in entrepreneurial activities was highlighted during the consultation process for the development of the UQ Student Strategy. The 2016 White Paper highlighted that over 59 per cent of undergraduate students consider opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills as an important part of their education.

Responding to this demand, following extensive consultation, the UQ Entrepreneurship Strategy was released in early 2019.  Under the Strategy, UQ continues to build a hub for innovators, leaders and entrepreneurial minds, who challenge and accelerate ideas to deliver economic, social, cultural, and environmental impact.  At UQ, every student will have the opportunity to experience entrepreneurial learning, with strong links between curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.


With the release of the Strategy, UQ entrepreneurship programs and activities were brought together under the Ventures brand.  Ventures was selected as the overarching name, as it speaks to optimism, boldness and a determination to lead in times of uncertainty.  When we seek to create positive change, we venture forth. When we tackle global challenges, we venture further.

Through Ventures, UQ supports entrepreneurs to generate and action ideas in response to identified needs and opportunities. This includes building creative problem solving, design thinking, negotiation, communication and leadership skills that may be applied within an existing organisation, or in the creation of a new one.

Whether you are a UQ student, researcher or alumni, there are programs, events and activities for you through Ventures. 

Whether you are from a corporate, government, startup or social enterprise, we invite you to connect with UQ Ventures as there are many ways to be part of our community.

Welcome to Ventures at UQ.  We invite you to be part of our community.