LIFT 2024 launched to boost women’s participation in STEM and entrepreneurship

LIFT 2024 launched to boost women’s participation in STEM and entrepreneurship

Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic celebrated entrepreneurial spirit of scholarship recipients

Federal Minister for Industry and Science the Hon Ed Husic MP officially launched LIFT 2024, a transformative initiative to empower women in STEM and entrepreneurship, at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus today (Wednesday 13 March).

LIFT is run by UOW and powered by iAccelerate with a generous $1 million grant from the Australian Government’s Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WISE) program.

The program is designed to inspire and support women within their careers and entrepreneurial ventures. It emphasises the importance of mentorship, collaboration, and empowerment as women navigate the challenges and opportunities in STEM fields and entrepreneurship.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson said UOW is committed to providing opportunities for women entrepreneurs and supporting their vision.

“At UOW, we are dedicated to creating an environment where women in STEM can thrive as entrepreneurs,” Professor Davidson said.

“With support from the Government, programs like LIFT play an instrumental role in realising this vision, offering essential support and resources to empower women in their entrepreneurial journeys.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson with Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic and Member for Cunningham Alison Byrnes 

iAccelerate Director and LIFT co-lead Dr Tamantha Stutchbury of said she was looking forward to building on the LIFT program’s successes last year.

“We are thrilled to launch LIFT 2024 and continue our mission of empowering women in STEM and entrepreneurship,” Dr Stutchbury said.

“iAccelerate is leading the industry in terms of women engaging with us as co-founders of resident companies, but we know globally that women aren’t supported with access to networks and funding in entrepreneurial ecosystems. That’s why it’s so important to us to offer scholarships, mentoring and networking to in our Female Founders program.”

LIFT co-lead Professor Danielle Skropeta from the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health said the program would provide a platform for researchers to succeed in their careers.

“It's crucial that early career researchers receive effective mentoring and training to succeed in their careers,” Professor Skropeta said.

“By taking up these opportunities to grow and giving back as mentors to young girls, we hope to see our interns gain new skills, build their professional network in the Illawarra and continue their innovative research.”

The launch event also celebrated the achievements of participants who have been awarded scholarships and internships as part of the program.

LIFT scholarship recipient Nuwangi Cooray, a PhD student at UOW’s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, is working to develop a new generation of sunscreens that can help prevent skin cancer.

“It is crucial for me to gain industry experience through the LIFT project,” she said.

“As a PhD student committed to making a significant social and economic impact through innovation, my aim is not only to acquire the necessary skills to enter the workforce upon graduation but also to develop strategies for effectively connecting my research with the industry.

“In my field of research, I have noticed plenty of innovations and concepts getting published but never going beyond the laboratory. I believe that the industrial experience through the LIFT project provides me with the perfect platform to look at my research through a commercial lens to identify how I can best bridge the gap between laboratory and industry.”

Laura Smith from the School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences in the Faculty of Science, Medicine & Health was awarded an industry internship, and she will be interning with the Graduate Institute of Innovation. Her PhD research is on improving treatment options for metabolic diseases such as insulin resistant diabetes.

“I would never have gotten this industry internship if not for the LIFT Project,” she said.

“Only 16 per cent of PhD's go into academia, so having some training in business and delivering a product will be extremely beneficial for my career path in the future.”