Integrated Innovation Network
Venture Mentor Service
The University of Newcastle’s Venture Mentor Service (VMS) supports entrepreneurial activity within the broader University community to include students, staff, alumni, and participants in the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) programs. UON VMS is a sister program to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) VMS and one of two universities in Australia to adopt the MIT model.
The University believes that the active support of entrepreneurial activities improves the innovation and entrepreneurial capacity leading to the development of economic diversity and sustainable competitive advantage for the region.
VMS consists of volunteer mentors, who are overseen and supported in their mentoring role by University staff of the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N).
Mentors are selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of entrepreneurs and for their enthusiasm for the program. Mentors work in teams of between 2-5 people per venture. Relationships between mentors and entrepreneurs are formed based on the needs and preferences of the venture and the interests of the available mentors. VMS is based on key underlying concepts:
- When an entrepreneur with an idea is connected with a team of mentors with proven skills and experience, their venture is more likely to succeed
- Mentoring works best in a conflict‐free, confidential, trusted environment
- Team mentoring is a unique methodology, with proven advantages versus traditional forms of mentoring
- Mentoring should focus on building stronger entrepreneurs
What you get
- Opportunity to interact with, learn from and develop relationships with a community of like‐minded peers
- Don’t feel like you are carrying all the weight of a venture's success
- Mentor colleagues provide excellent sounding boards
- Easier to move on when other expertise is needed
- Giving back - to the University, to the community, to entrepreneurship
- The satisfaction of helping to develop entrepreneurs
- Exposure to exciting ventures, clever ideas, and leading‐edge products and services
- Real enjoyment in sharing one’s experience and expertise
What makes a good mentor?
- Significant and relevant experience (business/startups, technical and/or industry/sector)
- No personal agenda
- Enthusiasm for the program
- Ability to advise and coach
- Listening skills
- Respected by colleagues
- Positive attitude
- Comfortable with team mentoring
- Time to participate
Minimum 4.5 hour equivalent per month, more if the venture you are mentoring requests additional meetings or if you decide to join more than one mentoring team.
- Monthly Mentor Meeting (2 hours)
- 1 mentor session per month (1.5 hours)
- Communications, reviewing venture documents, venture follow-up (up to 1 hour)
VMS mentors are volunteers.
Become a VMS Mentor
If you would like to know more about being a VMS mentor and our program's principles please submit an expression of interest.
An I2N representative will be in touch to arrange a Zoom meeting. Once we've ascertained your alignment with the program, you'll be formally invited to participate as a mentor.
To ensure a seamless process, please prepare in advance the following information before making the EOI:
- Name, email, phone, LinkedIn profile URL
- Interest in participating
- Industry experience
- Areas of expertise
- New venture creation experience
What you get
- Free access to a diverse pool of experience, opinions and contacts
- The ability to size, shape and change your mentor team to meet the evolving needs of your venture
- Increased the likelihood that your venture will build a strong relationship with at least one mentor
- Continuity throughout your venture journey
What qualifies my venture?
- University of Newcastle student, staff or alumni
- I2N Incubator participants
- I2N Validator graduates
- Being serious about learning, making progress and building a business
- Preparation – submit agenda, materials & meeting notes; action agreed 'homework'
- Keep in regular communication – be responsive
- Give your mentor team the whole story
- Don’t come purely for funding or connections
Minimum 2 hours equivalent monthly, more if additional meetings are requested by venture.
- Around 1 mentor session per month (1.5 hours)
- Communications and meeting follow-up (30 minutes)
- Homework between sessions (varied)
Become a VMS venture
If you would like to know more about being a VMS venture and our program's principles please submit an expression of interest.
An I2N representative will be in touch to arrange a Zoom meeting. Once we've ascertained your alignment with the program, you'll be formally invited to participate as a venture.
To ensure a seamless process, please prepare in advance the following information before making the application:
The team and venture particulars
- Name, mailing address, website
- Industry category
- Affiliation to the University of Newcastle and Integrated Innovation Network (I2N)
- Founding members of the team including full names, role in the venture, email, and phone
The venture description
- What do you do?
- What is the problem?
- Who has it?
- How will you solve the problem?
- How will you make money?
- What is the secret sauce?
- Is there IP?
- What is the venture's stage?
- What type of help do you need from VMS?