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How the Venture Makers Global Exchange Program Transformed Western Sydney University Students

In a rapidly changing world, becoming a more informed global citizen is integral to navigate the challenges of today. The Venture Makers Global Exchange Program that launched in March of this year provided the perfect opportunity for Western Sydney University students to do just this.

The 10-day intensive exchange was based in Kansai, the innovation capital of Japan, and run in collaboration with Innovation Dojo Japan. The program brought together 29 students from 7 global universities in Japan, Australia, India, Canada, and the UK. To promote cross-cultural exchange and understanding the students used their diverse experiences and skills to work in interdisciplinary cross-cultural teams as well as:

1) Develop an idea

2) Validate the idea

3) Prototype the idea

“I learnt that innovation happens through collaborative work, thinking and action. It’s been such a life-changing experience”

Kobe Program Participant

“I feel more equipped to create real change about the things I’m most passionate about”

Kobe Program Participant

Through hands-on learning, cultural immersion, and collaboration with like-minded students from around the world, the participants developed the skills, knowledge, and connections needed to take their entrepreneurial skills to the next level.

Highlight of the Trip

In order to become a more informed global citizen, students also partook in unique experiences to learn about Japanese culture. A true highlight of the program was the cultural immersion day visiting the PASONA Group in Awaji Island. The PASONA Group is taking on the challenge of creating new jobs by attracting Human Resources to rural areas with the aim of bringing people together to revitalise regional industry.

The students enjoyed a personalised tour of some of the great revitalisation projects PASONA has developed. From ballet theatres (and a ballet performance) to Japanese farm-to-table restaurants to meditation and rejuvenation centres, the students experienced the efforts of PASONA to facilitate sustainable development of the Awaji region. This visit not only showcased the beauty of Japan but encouraged the students to think creatively to innovate.

The Event at a Glance

Students and guests arrived for breakfast, followed by the introductory welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.  

10:00am – 10:30am: Pitch Fest – Four rapid pitches from Founders who began their startup journey as students at one of the partner universities.  

Our four guest Founders each delivered a 2 minute pitch of their startups, in a high-energy rapid-fire Pitch Fest.  

10:30am – 11:15am: Founders Ask Me Anything (AMA) Panel  

During the AMA Panel, students and guests had the opportunity to ask the Founder panellists about their startup journey and experiences.  

11:15am – 12:00pm: Speed Networking  

The Speed Networking activity was similar to Speed Dating, but instead the students and founders mixed in different groups of 2-3 to answer 3 question prompts.  

  • If you could work for any startup, who would it be? 
  • What area of startup are you interested in? 
  • Why are you interested in entrepreneurship? 

12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch and networking

The event ended with lunch, and guests ended up staying until around 1:30pm to have one-on-one chats with the Launch Pad and other University program teams, and other aspiring founders. 

Furthermore, by engaging with corporations such as Air Water Japan, Shinki Bus and TOA corporation students were exposed to new perspectives that shaped their understanding of Japan’s start-up ecosystem and their involvement in achieving the sustainable development goals. Students also had the unique opportunity to partake in a networking meet-up event held in cooperation with Kobe City, the Swiss Consulate in Osaka, Entrepreneurship Plaza Hyogo and Innovation Dojo!

To end the program, we enjoyed a celebratory dinner where we witnessed the strong bonds the students made with each other which was truly inspiring and a testament to the impact of a program like this.

With a focus on innovation and the global start-up ecosystem, the Kobe program challenged participants to think critically, creatively, and globally. From the exceptional mentors and industry experts to the unforgettable experiences in Japan, the Venture Makers Global exchange program was a truly transformative experience that left students with the tools they need to make meaningful connections and a difference in the world of entrepreneurship.

Take a look!

Stay connected with Launch Pad to find out more about future exchange opportunities!