When science undergraduate student and co-founder Scott Runacres took to the LaunchPad stage to pitch his bespoke adventure business, Vagabond, to a panel of leading entrepreneurs and a 100-strong audience, he wasn’t sure what the reaction would be.  

Vagabond is a collective of three students whose ambition is to share the beauty of Australia with the world through showcasing adventures of their own online, inspiring people to do their own adventures. They will also run weekend trips around Victoria and eventually week long expeditions between Melbourne and Sydney.

Scott and his co-founders, all students of the Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global Challenges (Honours), walked away from the inaugural LaunchPad night with much more than expected. The judges awarded them $4,000 and they scooped the audience choice award of $2,000. This money will help them to buy equipment and insurance to start offering trips this summer.  In addition, Vagabond were given the offer of mentoring from an established global travel company and have been asked to run a trip for The Henley Club.
The Vagabond team receive their award
The other enterprises funded on the night included Living Books (seed-containing books to promote family engagement around gardening and sustainability), Cocktail Cargo (a subscription service providing cocktails in a box) and The Conscious Wardrobe (an ethical clothing platform). Another enterprise called Bioquisitive, which has established a BioHacking community in Melbourne, also gained a lot of interest on the night.
The Conscious Wardrobe celebrate their award

The LaunchPad awards night was the culmination of the student's second year studies where they have been learning about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship alongside their science majors.

LaunchPad offered a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse community comprising students, alumni, supporters and staff from across Monash University, along with key industry figures and entrepreneurs. The high quality of the student pitches and the overall positive atmosphere of the night were praised by the judges, participants and audience alike.

Judging panellist and entrepreneur David Urpani said it was an “entertaining, educational and inspiring night”. David Urpani will be joining the course as entrepreneur in residence in 2016 when the students do a unit that emulates an incubator environment.

The Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global Challenges, the only Honours degree of its kind in Australia, aims to equip a small cohort of passionate and ambitious science students with the capacity to make change on the global stage.  Our students study science but in the wider context of entrepreneurship and business, meaning that they develop core skills and competencies such as leadership, science diplomacy and communications.

Combined with the skills and knowledge learned in their science major, they will be ready to step straight into a diverse range of roles, from policy makers and government advisors to industry business owners and leaders. This is made possible through their engagement with industry and key influencers throughout the degree course. Our students proactively undertake internships, mentoring and outreach initiatives as well as getting involved in intimate dialogues and masterclasses with inspirational leaders from across industry.

As part of their course the students also need to do two internships with a focus on leadership or entrepreneurship.  This summer many of our students will be undertaking internships across a broad range of social and scientific enterprises in far flung corners of the globe – from Papua New Guinea and Vietnam to the UK and India, to name a few.

Second year student Nigel Abello says being involved with the Global Challenges course is one of the “biggest things that has impacted his life to date”. Nigel is heading off this summer to Nepal undertaking an internship with a social enterprise enabling locals to become self-supporting through entrepreneurship. When he returns to Melbourne he will be completing a second internship with Picture the Coast, another social enterprise, undertaking a project to take the longest picture of the coast of Australia.

Through these internships Nigel says “I am keen to broaden my worldview and get a more direct understanding of how my understanding of science can impact communities around the world”.

Living Books were awarded a fellowship awarded by Leesa Charlotte of The Henley Club (center right) to attend the Global Ideas Conference
 As one of the Faculty involved in the course it is inspiring and rewarding to see the development of our student's capacity through their entrepreneurship studies.  Getting the opportunity to support students, like Scott, who dreams of taking his physiology major and becoming a social entrepreneur, express his purpose through his university assignments feels like we are bottling magic.  Who know where these dreams will next take them and who they may be able to impact.

Read More