Are you an Aboriginal entrepreneur, a female founder or a business starter from a migrant or refugee background? Are you looking to take your startup idea to the next level?

The Melbourne Global Innovation Program is an initiative between the City of Melbourne and The Hacker Exchange and is a unique two-week experience designed to upskill and equip budding entrepreneurs to start and grow their own business.

There are five full scholarships available for this program valued at $5,000 each, plus additional financial support through a stipend to help with travel costs, food and other needs.

Expressions of interest are now closed.

Over two inspiring weeks, you’ll join a select cohort of early stage founders to learn from world-class thought leaders, and work hands-on in the Melbourne start-up environment. You’ll also get your hands dirty solving real business problems and iterating on your own startup idea.

You’ll have direct access to sought-after mentors, and make unforgettable connections with investors, accelerators, founders and professionals from both Australia and beyond.

The sessions are run by The Hacker Exchange, an organisation operating at the intersection of tertiary education and entrepreneurship, delivering a re-imagined learning experience that is intense, immersive, and based in the real world. Through their global innovation programs, modular courses and community engagement, the Hacker Exchange brings unique experiences and expertise to the program through its rich network and industry partners who cover all phases of starting and growing businesses, including everything from budgeting, planning, marketing and pitching.

Week one

Learn why many founders choose Australia as their home base and learn the inner workings of startup business culture. Practical workshops and mentor sessions will guide you through the ideation process and exploratory phase so you’re ready to pitch.

Some of the highlights of week one include: concept ideation, startup mindset, funding and finance, startup tour, product validation, branding and culture.

Week two

Get an intimate insight into what's trending in Melbourne startups and how you can stay ahead of the curve. Visit tech giants, local startups, and attend meetups with real investors and founders. Get inspired with Melbourne’s creative tech scene, and polish your pitching skills with our presentation coaching workshops.

Some of the highlights of week two include: growth hacking, pitch practice, tech tour, startup tour, product development, final pitches.

Overall professional development outcomes from the program include:

  • Join a global network of next-gen entrepreneurs
  • Learn how to grow your idea into a scalable, profitable startup
  • Learn from the best innovative thought leaders, founders and investors
  • Build a personalised global network of key business relationships
  • Build your own pitch deck and perfect your pitching skills
  • Visit some of the leading tech giants right here in Melbourne.

Also included is a welcome dinner, farewell lunch, a Hacker Exchange mentor meetup, and you will be invited to numerous events – where your attendance is optional, but recommended! A local guide book is also provided and plenty of free time to have meetings or explore on your own terms. There will also be pre-departure online meetups so you can get to know your cohort before kick-off.

Workshops and activities will be held at a number of locations in and around the City of Melbourne municipality. Exact locations will be confirmed once the itinerary and agenda is locked down.

To be eligible to join the Global Innovation Program, you need to be a budding entrepreneur who is passionate about starting/strengthening their own business or social enterprise.

The Global Innovation Program accepts people who live, work, study or play in the City of Melbourne. You must also identify in one (or more) of the following founder/entrepreneur target groups (described as either having recently started a startup/business or have an idea to start one in the future):

  • First generation, migrant and refugee founders
  • Aboriginal founders
  • Female founders.

It is preferred that you have established ideas or foundations for a startup or social enterprise business. You must be aged 18 years and above to enter this program.

Expressions of interest were open from 10 February 2020 and closed 11:45pm on Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted in the first week of April, and will progress with a video interview or an in-person interview at the City of Melbourne.

Final successful applicants will be notified in early May.

The 10 day program will run from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, from Monday 25 May to Friday 5 June 2020. There will be some optional after hours events to attend.

Expression of interest form

To apply, please fill out the application below to the best of your ability.

If you have any questions about this program please contact Emma Forster, Economic Development on 9658 7055 or by email.

We will be in contact with shortlisted applicants in early April. If you are shortlisted, you will receive an email with a link to the next stage of the application process, which is a video interview or in-person interview if preferred.

Expressions of interest closed at 11.45pm on Tuesday 31 March 2020.


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By ticking this box you agree to the conditions of the Global Innovation Program and understand the time commitment involved. If you are currently employed, your employer (if applicable) endorses your participation and also agrees to support you meet the obligations of this 10-day program.

The survey form is now closed. Thanks for your contributions.

Startup Melbourne