Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge


The call for applications to participate in the Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge has now closed.


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 skills to boost the global competitiveness of Australian research and industry.

The Australian–French Entrepreneurship Challenge is based on the ‘24 hours for Entrepreneurship’ challenge: a flagship event run in France since 2011 by the French National Association for Research and Technology and Novancia Business School.

The Australian challenge is supported by the French Embassy in Australia; the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; the Australian Academy of Science; The Australian National University; and the Australian and French business communities. Contact Anne Rouault at the French Embassy in Australia ( to become a sponsor.

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 links.

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

Working in pre-selected teams of up to six, participants will be challenged to design a start-up in a relevant field. In the first few hours of the event participants will attend workshops and access expert mentoring to provide the skills to go through the process. Over a continuous 24 hour period 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.

Fields of research

Candidates should be research active in any field of the natural sciences, including earth, chemical or biological sciences; technology, engineering or medicine; or in the humanities or social sciences.


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

The candidate must:

  • be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident, living in Australia at the time of submitting the grant 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 Australian university or research organisation
  • hold a passport valid until at least 31 December 2016.


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 Tuesday 26 April.

The challenge will be held in Canberra. All costs relating to flights, accommodation and meals outside of the event will be the applicant’s responsibility.

The Honourable Christopher Pyne, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, will present an award to the winning team and one selected representative will also have the opportunity to travel to France and experience first-hand the country’s advanced innovation ecosystem.


The event will commence with networking and training activities at 8am on Thursday 2 June 2016 at the Australian National University. Participants will then have 24 hours from 1pm 2 June to 1pm 3 June to develop their proposal. Following this the teams will pitch their ideas and the judges will make their selections. The award ceremony will commence at 6:30pm on 3 June, after which participants will be invited to a reception hosted by His Excellency Christophe Lecourtier, Ambassador of France to Australia, at his Residence in Canberra.

Notification of outcome: 26 April 2016

Important notice

Applications are considered carefully by an Australian Academy of Science selection panel with diverse expertise. The decisions of the panel are based upon the assessed competitiveness of the proposal. The Academy is not able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is successful or not.

For further information contact

International Programs
Australian Academy of Science
GPO Box 783
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6201 9412

This program is supported by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the French Embassy in Australia and aligns with the objectives of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). More information is available at

© 2017 Australian Academy of Science