The University of Newcastle, Australia


Have an idea and want to know where to take it next?

I2N’s Validator program is designed to provide research, corporate and mixed teams a guided experience to quickly and cost-effectively determine pathways to market for an idea, invention or research project. Over the course of 10 weeks, with 6 face-to-face workshops, teams will experience hands-on learning to validate a fit between a significant problem and their idea.

Learn essential skills

Modelled on the highly regarded Lean LaunchPad program developed by Steve Blank at Stanford, Validator will see teams:

  • Develop entrepreneurial capacity and critical enterprise skills
  • Test and collect evidence for multiple business model hypotheses
  • 'Get out of the building' to talk to potential customers and partners and to gain valuable insights
  • Identify and validate a potential pathway to market for your innovation
  • Present your customer discovery findings and key learnings without giving away the 'secret sauce' of your idea
Who should attend
  • Corporate teams developing new products and services
  • Research teams testing market opportunities for recent discoveries and new inventions
  • Pre-startup teams keen to practice lean startup principles
  • Mixed industry-research teams priming themselves for ongoing collaboration
What you will experience

A total of 6 face-to-face workshops over 10 weeks will see your team test assumptions about an idea or innovation by acquiring insights from real customers. You will participate in peer learning through team presentations and be provided with feedback under the guidance of expert facilitators and mentors. Gain strategies and access to tools for validating a sustainable business model by:

  • Leveraging the experience and skills of yourself and those around you
  • Applying tools derived from lean startup, innovation and design thinking
  • Learn effective customer discovery skills to achieve empathy with end-users and gain valuable insights
  • Validate a fit between your idea or technology and a real-world problem
  • Effectively communicate the problem you are solving and the real-world impact of your innovation

Emily Chang has led the design and execution of pre-accelerator and accelerator programs in Australia, including CSIRO ON. She is an organisational and capability development professional with experience working across private industry, government and the research sector. Her core strengths are in facilitation, experimental learning program design and management, leadership development and change management.

James Bradley is the co-founder of Diffuse Energy, a Newcastle-based clean energy startup. With experience as an industry executive and mentor, academic at the University of Newcastle's School of Engineering and participant in CSIRO's ON Prime and ON Accelerate programs, James understands the perspectives of industry, academia, and entrepreneurs in determining commercialisation pathways, as well as maintaining an interest in the development of deep tech innovations.


$9,900 per team, payable prior to commencement of the workshop.

Teams that include at least one University of Newcastle staff or student receive complimentary access to the program.

Teams that do not include any University of Newcastle staff or students, but includes at least one University of Newcastle alumni receive a 75% discount (total cost $2,475).

Important dates

Expressions of interest close: 11:59PM, Sunday 22 March 2020.

Offers made: by 5PM, Tuesday 24 March 2020.

Six full-day face-to-face workshops will take place in Newcastle on:

  • Monday 6 April
  • Tuesday 7 April
  • Tuesday 28 April
  • Tuesday 12 May
  • Tuesday 26 May
  • Tuesday 9 June

Teams must consist of a minimum of three to a maximum of five members. Consideration will be given for teams of 2, or more than 5 members only in exceptional circumstances and on a case by case basis.

Attendance by all team members at the face-to-face workshops is mandatory. Exceptions will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and on a case by case basis.

Includes workshop materials, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea at face-to-face sessions.

All participants receive a certificate of completion.

Program has a limited number of participants to ensure a personal experience.

Applications are reviewed before offers are made to teams who address essential criteria.

Intellectual Property (IP)

The University of Newcastle makes no claim over the intellectual property (IP) generated by participants as part of the Validator program (subject to the University’s IP Policy and Procedure) provided your use of the IP acknowledges that the IP was developed as part of the Validator program (unless it is unreasonable to do so).

If a team member is an employee or student of the University of Newcastle, they agree and acknowledge that ownership of the IP will be in accordance with the University IP Policy and Procedure, as amended from time to time. IP Policy found here. IP Procedure found here.

Teams may request the assistance of the University of Newcastle to commercialise the IP noting that the University is entitled to recover the costs of any assistance.

Why I2N?

The University of Newcastle's I2N works with individuals and organisations from across the Hunter region and beyond to turn ideas and challenges into opportunity. As a leading driver of economic and business growth, the I2N cultivates entrepreneurial mindsets behind many of the region's most innovative businesses and leaders.

Our programs are more than theory. They are about action and equipping you with practical tools and strategies necessary to have an immediate impact on your innovation journey.

Make an application Validator

To ensure a seamless process, please have the 'Team Lead' prepare in advance the following information before making the application:

The idea

  1. Outline of the problem you believe you have a solution for (up to 250 words)
  2. Outline of the end-users/customers you believe to have this problem (up to 250 words)
  3. Outline of the solution you believe addresses this problem (up to 250 words)
  4. A 100-word summary of your idea/invention
  5. Current intellectual property (IP) status and plans for protection, if required

The team

  1. Individual team member details including
    1. Name
    2. Email
    3. Contact number
    4. Gender
    5. Primary place of residence
    6. Affiliation to the University of Newcastle
    7. Current employer
    8. Contribution to the team
  2. Skills or expertise your team may be missing
  3. What your team expects to achieve by participating in Validator

Other information that will be requested, but does not impact the assessment of the application includes:

  1. Team members who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  2. Team members who identify as first-generation migrants or refugees
  3. What motivated the team to make an application
  4. The estimated Technology Readiness Level of the idea/invention
  5. The UN Sustainable Development Goals the idea/research addresses