Natalie Chapman

2018 Alumni Award for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Founder, gemaker

Graduate Certificate in Management, 1998
Master of Commerce, 2002
Master of Business Administration, 2009

Leading a revolution in research-industry engagement, Natalie Chapman has made it her mission to help research organisations and innovative businesses to commercialise new knowledge and technologies.

Natalie founded technology transfer consultancy gemaker in 2011 to take Australian innovations to global markets. The company specialises in commercialising new inventions for small to medium enterprises and research organisations in the renewable energy, biomedicine, mining, nuclear technology, ICT, education, advanced manufacturing and new materials sectors. gemaker’s approach includes conducting market research, identifying and securing funding sources and connecting organisations with partners and customers.

Under Natalie’s leadership as Managing Director, gemaker has collaborated on a world-leading professional capabilities framework for the tech transfer sector; trained hundreds of university researchers in industry engagement; and accelerated international commercialisation of an Australian invention that reduces suffering after catastrophic storms. It has supported the transformation of a small exploration company to an investor-ready, high-tech materials producer; developed SME engagement strategy with the Defence Science and Technology Group; and won over a million dollars in grant funding for Australian innovators.

Natalie also created the inspiring #AUSinnovates campaign, designed to change the conversation around Australia’s lag in commercialisation of new knowledge and technology and to celebrate and learn from successes.

Identifying a gap in the market while undertaking her MBA at The Sydney Business School at the University of Wollongong, Natalie began with $15,000 taken from her long service leave, registering a business, developing a website and pulling people and materials together. Within four years, gemaker had reached a $1-million milestone, employed more than 20 people and accelerated the commercial deployment of a host of Australian innovations. This growth trajectory continues today.

gemaker is unique and innovative, both in what it does and the way that it works. It exploits the latest technologies to communicate and do business, has virtual offices in Sydney and Melbourne, and supports a flexible network of professionals and experts that are committed to projects rather than rigid nine to five office-based work. This progressive and decentralised business model means that the diverse team is largely female, and comprises parents, carers, part-time students and retirees – harnessing the talent of intelligent, qualified STEM specialists often overlooked in the sector. She is deeply committed to advancing women in science and technology, giving freely of her time on a diverse range of initiatives in schools, universities and beyond.

Natalie was named 2013 Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand – Business Services, while gemaker won three Silver Stevie Awards in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards for innovation in management and in business-to-business products and services. Also in 2017, Natalie was a finalist in the NSW Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards, while gemaker won a NSW Telstra Business Award.

Alongside this, Natalie is Corporate Communications Manager for Alkane Resources and Director of Commercialisation Studies Centre (CSC), sits on the external advisory boards for both UOW Faculty of Business and Law and UNSW School of Chemistry and is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at UNSW. Prior to establishing gemaker, she led commercialisation activities for disruptive technologies for Smart Services CRC, and drove the strategic growth of ANSTO’s commercial businesses and the commercialisation of its innovations.

Chancellor, Natalie Chapman continues to lead an exceptional career helping Australian companies grow and evolve into new markets at the service of the national innovation agenda. Through helping translate ideas and research into commercial markets, she is working to improve lives, nurture the planet and grow new industries for sustained economic security.

I am honoured to present Natalie Chapman for the Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.