The University of Queensland has appointed a Chief Student Entrepreneur to inspire and mentor young innovators.
Third-year economics student Ben Coughlin, a successful entrepreneur in his own right, is the first person to hold the position.
UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Iain Watson said Mr Coughlin, of Indooroopilly, was a role model for current and future students.
The newly created Chief Student Entrepreneur role sits within the UQ Idea Hub, a startup pre-incubator that connects young innovators with mentors, and provides workshops and learning experiences to entrepreneurially minded students.
“The Idea Hub is a powerful part of our commitment to provide student entrepreneurs with opportunities to fulfil their aspirations and start their own business ventures,” Professor Watson said.
“As the inaugural Chief Student Entrepreneur, Mr Coughlin will help inspire and mentor other students in entrepreneurship and innovation.”
Mr Coughlin runs the successful Backyard Coach swimming coaching business.
“His wealth of entrepreneurship knowledge ensures he will be able to offer students a unique perspective as a young mentor,” Professor Watson said.
Mr Coughlin has been part of the Brisbane startup scene since 2015, and has taken advantage of a range of opportunities and adventures while studying at UQ, including participating in the UQ Idea Hub program in 2016.
“The UQ Idea Hub has been essential to my development as an entrepreneur and business professional,” he said.
“The ongoing support I received from the UQ Idea Hub, even after I’d completed the intensive workshop program, truly taught me how to grow a business and engage in the Australian startup ecosystem.
“UQ Idea Hub was essential, and still is, in developing the skills needed to pursue my business.”
He said he was excited to take on the role of Chief Student Entrepreneur.
“I’ve been coaching sport for four years and there’s nothing more rewarding than helping others discover their own path to achieve their goals,” he said.
UQ Idea Hub Director Nimrod Klayman said Mr Coughlin was an obvious choice for the new role.
“Ben is an outstanding young entrepreneur who has grabbed every opportunity with both hands,” Mr Klayman said.
“He will be a great role model for future participants in the UQ startup community.”
Mr Coughlin won the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneur Grant for emerging Brisbane startups in 2016, was involved in the UQ Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society (UQIES) and took part in the ilab germinate accelerator program.
He won a coveted position at the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission at the Advance Queensland Young Starters’ competition in 2017.
Last year Mr Coughlin completed a four-week intensive international internship as part of the UQ Idea Hub China Mobility Program. He has also been selected to visit Silicon Valley thanks to Startup Catalyst, which hosts international missions to global startup hotspots.
Mr Coughlin works in the UQ Idea Hub space, in building 50, room N302 at the St Lucia campus. Students can drop by for a chat or book in a mentor session by emailing Olivia Adlard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expressions of interest for the next round of Idea Hub workshops are now open. Email Ms Adlard for details.