Alumnus endowment to spur on UQ’s emerging entrepreneurs

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Shane Chidgzey is a big believer in positive karma. The UQ Business School alumnus and founder of iPLAN Consulting is convinced that in business, as in life, you get what you give – and giving to others is a major part of his ethos. 

Mr Chidgzey’s desire to ‘pay it forward’ was the driving force behind his recent $125,000 gift to endow a prize in support of UQ’s budding entrepreneurs. 

The Shane Chidgzey Young Entrepreneurs Prize will be an annual $5000 award given to the best performing startup in UQ’s ilab Germinate startup accelerator program.

Mr Chidgzey said supporting the entrepreneurship and innovation space was a cause close to his heart. 

“Business as it stands has got to change,” Mr Chidgzey said. 

“The younger generation think in a way that is in tune with the future state of business. As a result, we need to embrace and empower them in any way possible to ensure their ideas become a reality.  

“The fact that students at UQ can harness and grow their ideas through ilab is fantastic. 

“That’s why I’m proud to endow a prize to help ilab participants through this process.”

According to Mr Chidgzey, revelling in the success of other entrepreneurs should come naturally to people in the business community. 

“Personally, I get a lot of self-fulfilment out of watching other people’s excitement,” he said. 

“It takes me right back to the beginning of my own business journey. 

“I think that’s part of the reason why we re-invent our businesses – because we want to feel that initial excitement again. I’d argue that you can have a similar experience by investing in someone else’s startup.” 

In addition to his endowment, Mr Chidgzey will be on hand to mentor future ilab Germinate students and share insights from his own entrepreneurial journey. 

Bachelor of Economics student and ilab Germinate participant Bernardo Gonzalez said Mr Chidgzey’s prize would encourage ilab students to strive for greatness. 

“Most ilab students are very passionate about their ideas and committed to seeing them through,” Mr Gonzalez said. 

“I think this prize will have a great impact on the Germinate program. It will not only motivate students to work even harder for the chance of being recognised, but it will also help the winners invest in their business and take it further.”

Director of ilab Bernie Woodcroft said the endowment would bolster UQ’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. 

“We are delighted that Shane has chosen to invest in the ilab program,” Mr Woodcroft said. 

“Our students expect an entrepreneurial educational experience, and this endowment will draw focus to the program and how it can help them.

“The badge of honour of being the most awarded startup in the ilab Germinate program will also help our winning teams with securing their first customers or pitching to investors.

“I hope Shane’s generosity will inspire other alumni and business leaders to partner with UQ to shift student outcomes and help students gain critical skills in entrepreneurship and problem-solving.

“Future work depends on these skills, whether our students go on to create their own startups or add value in existing businesses, and UQ – through its ever-expanding set of entrepreneurial programs – will help our graduates meet those challenges.”

Mr Chidgzey said he would encourage other UQ alumni to partner with their alma mater and give back.

“You can make an impact with anything from $5 to $500,000,” he said. 

“It’s about getting involved. Your personal capital – being there to contribute ideas, give feedback and mentor students – is just as important.” 

Winners of the Shane Chidgzey Young Entrepreneurs Prize will be awarded at ilab’s Germinate and Pitch event in October and will be determined by a judging panel consisting of Mr Chidgzey, ilab staff and live audience feedback.

Teams will be assessed on their idea, team and business progress, and on the potential of their startup based on their final presentation.

To find out more about ilab, visit the website.  

UQ’s Entrepreneurship Strategy is currently under development. To contribute to the strategy, fill out the survey. 

Equip students with the skills to help grow their ideas into solutions.