We’re proud to support the startup.business program, an exciting education program that teaches high school students in rural and regional Australia how to solve problems facing agriculture, using innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset.


AgriFutures Australia and startup.business are once again joining forces to deliver an exciting education program that teaches high school students in rural and regional Australia how to solve problems facing agriculture, using innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset.

After the success of last year’s pilot program, AgriFutures Australia will once again be investing in seven selected schools across the country to participate in the startup.business Entrepreneurial Learning in Action program.

AgriFutures Australia recognises the program as meeting the following learning and development criteria identified by Rural Research and Development Corporations Australia:

Career development – Programs for young people and emerging leaders that focus on building personal and professional skills.

Innovation – Programs that support innovation and technology, including incubators, start-up ventures and commercialising ideas.

Networking opportunities – Programs that support collaboration and provide opportunities to build professional networks.

Technical / industry skills – Programs that focus on building specific technical skills or promote connections within industry.

Why this program?

It’s not only business that is currently pushing the entrepreneurship agenda, academics are saying it too: the future of work has created increased demand for the soft skills associated with entrepreneurial thinking.

Like many industries today, agriculture is facing massive digital disruption and comprehensive changes to the way we think about combining innovation, technology and farming.

AgriFutures Australia wants to prepare school students for the future by sponsoring this exciting program that takes secondary students in Year 9 and Year 10 on an immersive journey into the entrepreneurial startup scene to help solve the problems facing agriculture in Australia.



Until recently, there has been no framework for the delivery of such a program in curriculum. That was until one of Australia’s top female entrepreneurs Jo Burston met University of Sydney academic Richard Seymour and they joined forces to develop and create this innovative evidence-based education program.

The complete program delivery package comes with a simple framework comprising six modules, a full 2-day Professional Learning training course, ongoing support and all course materials for an in-curriculum program to be delivered over one or two terms in Stage 4 or Stage 5.

As well as in-class course work, the program involves local business and industry though site visits and presentations, to give students context for their learning and provide them opportunities to see that entrepreneurship provides not just innovative thinking, but the ability to develop an idea and launch their own business.

The course culminates in a pitch competition when students pitch their innovative business idea to a panel of judges. Winning students are invited to compete in a national pitch competition as part of the Brilliant Business Kids Festival in Sydney in November.


AgriFutures Australia will provide seven Australian Secondary Schools with funding of $7,935* ex GST each, which covers:

● partial funding* of the startup.business Entrepreneurial Learning in Action Program, including all course materials, agriculture-specific case studies, connections with local business, and ongoing support from the startup.business Education and Program Director;

● a 2-day professional learning course for two teachers per school selected to deliver the program;

● a school visit by the startup.business Founder and CEO, as well as the Education and Program Director, to officially launch the program at a school assembly in front of students, staff and guests;

*Schools will be required to privately fund or secure funding from other sources to cover the remaining program delivery cost of $4,250* exc GST that will be payable to startup.business prior to commencement of the program.

How to apply

Applications for 2020 close on Friday, 1 November 2019.

The online application should be completed by a teacher or nominated member of staff from the school. If you are a student or parent, please encourage your school to apply.

Before completing the online application, we recommend you check your suitability by taking the brief pre-application quiz below. If you answer YES to four or more questions, we encourage you to submit a formal online application. The online application will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions regarding the program or your application, please contact liz@startup.business

Pre application quiz:
Do you meet all eligibility requirements outlined above?
Do you have an interest in entrepreneurship?
Do you have an interest in agriculture?
Do you want your students to engage in Problem Based Learning activities?
Do you have a class of students currently enrolled in agricultural studies or have a school-designed agricultural extra-curricular program that complies with curriculum criteria?
Do you have an interest in growing the uptake of students in agriculture?
Are you interested in increasing engagement between your students and local business?


Why is this important?

There are currently four jobs in agriculture for every university graduate studying an agricultural-related degree (Pratley, 2017).

Barriers to entrepreneurship are reducing across most countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including in Australia. Nevertheless, research shows entrepreneurship is typically only encouraged in those families with entrepreneurial parents, meaning for most of us: entrepreneurship is either an accidental journey, or one modelled on existing family businesses.

The AgriFutures startup.business program shows young people how the skills and mindset of entrepreneurs can allow them to create their own jobs. Teaching entrepreneurship is about changing the mindset of the learning process. This unique approach enables the students passions and interests with business to be incorporated into the program, highlighting these as a vehicle for change rather than a set of concepts or terms.

The critical element to learn about entrepreneurship requires students to be richly embedded in the context of opportunity, change, uncertainty and action. If they can’t see it, they can’t become it.

Related Resources

Students tackle ag issues with new entrepreneurial learning program

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Applications open for high school entrepreneurial learning program

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