The Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge

Several young male and female adults gathered around a computer
Members of the winning team collaborating in the Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge 2017. Photo: Hayley Teasdale


The call for applications to participate in the third Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge is now open. The deadline for applications is 9am (AEST) Monday 7 May 2018.


Today’s PhD students are the drivers of tomorrow’s Australian innovation economy.

Australian PhD students are future innovators, using their ideas to drive successful entrepreneurial endeavours. Teaching today’s PhD students key entrepreneurial skills will equip tomorrow’s business leaders with the ability and skills to boost the global competitiveness of Australian research and industry.

The Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge is designed to bring together creative minded PhD candidates to brainstorm innovative ideas right through from concept to creation – all in the space of 24 hours.

It had successfully run twice under the framework of the bilateral cooperation between France and Australia; in 2016 at The Australian National University and in 2017 in Adelaide in partnership with the SA government and the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, and Flinders University.

This third event builds on the success of these previous events. ANRT (L'Association Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie) will again bring its pedagogical know-how and organisational support.

The third edition of the Australian-French challenge is organised by Macquarie University, with the support of the Australian Academy of Science, the French Embassy in Australia, and the Australian and French business communities.

To find out how your university or your organisation can support and benefit from this event, please contact Dr. Fabiola Barba Ponce (0413 247 801) and Anna Grocholsky (0437 463 317) at the Commercialisation and Innovation Department at Macquarie University or by email at to discuss available sponsorship packages.

The challenge will benefit researchers, academic institutions and the economy

Participating PhD students will gain an invaluable opportunity to broaden their research and entrepreneurial skill set while establishing interdisciplinary and international relationships. With access to expert advice and seasoned mentors throughout the challenge, participants will gain skills enabling them to seize diverse opportunities throughout their career.

This national competition will provide participating institutions the opportunity to build networks with French businesses and institutions. It will also contribute to Australia’s innovation and economic goals in fostering international industry-research linkages.

Participants will compete for the opportunity to travel to France for a first-hand experience of the country’s innovation system.

Teams of PhD students will compete to design an innovative and profitable start-up concept

In the first few hours of the event participants will attend workshops, training activities and access expert mentoring to provide them with the skills to go through the process. Prior to the event, Macquarie University, together with the French Embassy and a representative from ANRT will select the members of each team and participants will be advised of the composition of their team on the day. Working in these teams, participants will be challenged to design a start-up in a relevant field. Over a continuous 24 hour period following the training, each team will require resilience, creativity, teamwork and a willingness to take risks in order to come up with a pitch to win over a grand jury of expert entrepreneurs, scientists and managers.


Up to 70 contestants will be invited to participate in this challenge. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and the outcome will be announced on Friday 25 May.

The challenge will be held at Macquarie University (Northern Sydney). All costs relating to flights, accommodation and meals outside of the event will be the applicant’s responsibility.


The event will commence with networking and training activities at 8am on Thursday 19 July 2018 at Macquarie University Campus. Participants will then have 24 hours from 1pm 19 July to 1pm 20 July to develop their proposal. Following this the teams will pitch their ideas and the judges will make their selection of the successful team.


The candidate must:

  • be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident, living in Australia at the time of submitting the application (if you were not born in Australia, please provide proof of Australian citizenship or Australian permanent residency)
  • be enrolled as a PhD candidate in an eligible Australian university or research organisation
  • hold a passport valid until at least 30 June 2019.

Eligible institutions include higher education institutions, publicly funded research agencies, private not-for-profit research organisations and firms that pursue research.

Fields of research

Candidates should be research active in one of the following fields:

  • the natural sciences, including earth, chemical or biological sciences
  • technology
  • engineering
  • medicine
  • the humanities
  • social sciences.

Materials to be submitted (in the following order)

  1. Application form
  2. Proof of Australian citizenship or Australian permanent residency for applicants not born in Australia
  3. Curriculum vitae or track record
  4. Letter of support
  5. Copy of passport valid until at least 30 June 2019

DEADLINE – 9am (AEST) Monday 7 May 2018

Completed applications, including supporting documentation, must be submitted electronically, preferably in PDF format, by a research office or grants office or equivalent, to

Notification of outcome: Friday 25 May 2018.

Important notice

Applications are considered carefully by a selection panel with diverse expertise put together by the French Embassy. The decisions of the panel are based on the assessed competitiveness of the proposal. The Embassy is not able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is successful or not.

For further information contact

Macquarie University

Dr. Fabiola Barba Ponce (for general enquiries and sponsorship)
Anna Grochoslky (for sponsorship opportunities)
Commercialisation and Innovation
Macquarie University

Phone: 02 9850 4576

Australian Academy of Science

International Programs
Australian Academy of Science
GPO Box 783
Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: 02 6201 9412

French Embassy in Australia

Science and Technology section: Anne Rouault & Nathalie Simenel-Amar


© 2018 Australian Academy of Science