What is the purpose of the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program?
To inspire, support and launch innovative initiatives and actions by the community that address key environmental or conservation challenges. We know there are many brilliant, innovative ideas out in the community, and we want to help you bring them to life!
What is the profile of an ideal participant?
We’re looking for innovators, change makers and social enterprise entrepreneurs, and we don’t believe there is just one type of person who fits the mould for our program. We expect our applicants will come from a wide variety of backgrounds including, but not limited to, current/recent university students, career innovators, technology gurus, sustainability leaders and conservation and environmental specialists.
We have programs to support you at different stages of development. Regardless of your background and the exact stage of your idea, we want to see your passion for your idea and the challenge it will address, and a strong commitment and drive to developing your idea into a successful initiative.
What types of ideas are eligible for HATCH?
We are open to receiving your brilliant innovative ideas to address a wide range of environmental or conservation challenges. Your idea could address one (or more) of the key threatening processes such as pollution, climate change, habitat loss, natural resource over-exploitation, invasive species or the illegal wildlife trade, or seek to inspire society to achieve progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Your initiative could be designed to drive change across one or more sectors including the natural environment, business, agriculture, or the community, and could include community building activities, technological solutions or take a social enterprise approach – just to name a few.
A key requirement is that your brilliant idea are that it is:
- Targeted to address a key conservation or environmental challenge,
- An innovative approach to address the issue you’re targeting,
- Designed to make a positive impact on the natural environment,
- Aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Taronga’s 360 degree approach to conservation (see below),
- A concept, pre-launch or early stage venture – you bring the concept, we’ll help you to assess, test and validate it,
- Is established as, or plans to develop into, a not-for-profit or social enterprise organisation, and
- Has potential to scale up for ever greater impact over time.
Take a look at our past HATCH teams and Green Grant winners for inspiration. If you have an idea and you’re not sure if it could be a good fit for HATCH, please get in touch – we’d love to chat about it!
What is Taronga's 360 degree approach to conservation?
At Taronga we recognise that to achieve successful conservation of species we must also consider and support the habitat in which the species live, and the communities that interact with the species and habitat. Below are some examples of activities that Taronga undertakes under each area that may help you to consider how your initiative aligns to these areas.
• Monitoring of wild populations
• Breed for release programs
• Rescue and rehabilitation of injured native wildlife
• Research and development of suitable nutrition
• Habitat restoration, e.g. tree planting for Regent Honeyeaters
• Ensuring suitable habitat for native species within our two Zoo grounds
• Researching and monitoring habitat use
• Guest, student and community education programs
• Tools to enable the public to protect wildlife, e.g. the Wildlife Witness app
• Working with local communities to address challenges and be self-sufficient, e.g. Beads for Wildlife
What is the purpose of the Pre-Accelerator Program?
To set early-stage Ecopreneurs up for success, kickstart their startup journey, and help prepare them for the HATCH Accelerator Program.
What will the Pre-Accelerator Program involve?
The program involves two half-day sessions at the start and end of the program, plus a two-hour session per week over six weeks. It is run fully online to enable participants to be involved from across Australia. You will be expected to work on your initiative in your own time, and required to complete key deliverables to support your progress. In the final session of the program we invite all participants to pitch their ideas and celebrate the pre-accelerator journey.
How frequently does the Pre-Accelerator Program run?
At this stage the program is due to run every 12 months. The next program will run in October to December 2024.
If you are interested to participate in a future round of the Pre-Accelerator Program, please register your interest on the main HATCH page, and we will get in touch when the next program dates are confirmed
Do I need to have an idea/initiative I am working on to participate in this program?
Yes, the Pre-Accelerator is designed to support you to further develop your early-stage idea, but you need to bring your brilliant, innovative idea to the program. The program will support you to:
• Clearly articulate the problem you are addressing,
• Clearly articulate your solution to the problem,
• Develop your Theory of Change and Social Business Canvas, and
• Develop a plan for the first round of market testing of your solution.
Do I have to complete the Pre-Accelerator Program to be able to apply for the Accelerator Program?
No, it is not a requirement to complete any of the earlier stage HATCH programs to be eligible to apply for another HATCH program. The offerings are designed to support participants who are starting out through the journey; but you are welcome to apply to the Accelerator without having participated in the Pre-Accelerator Programs.
Is there a cost to participate? Is there funding available?
No cost, it’s free to participate in the Pre-Accelerator Program. As it is an early stage program, there is no funding provided by the program.
How can I apply to the Pre-Accelerator Program?
Take a look at the Application Guide and Selection Criteria document to help you prepare your application, then start your application on the Pre-Accelerator Program Application Form.
If you are interested to register your interest for a future round of the Pre-Accelerator Program, please register your interest on the main HATCH page.
View the Application Guide.
What is an accelerator?
Think of an accelerator as similar to a University or TAFE unit – a structured, fixed term development program. However, the purpose of an accelerator program is not only to educate, but to help participants to develop and refine their initiative or business venture.
During the HATCH program, you will undertake education sessions, peer collaboration, and have access to mentors from a range of different expertise. You will also undertake work on your game changing idea or product for the planet in your own time.
Accelerators often provide seed capital to participants as well. HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program will provide $2,000 to each participating team.
At the end of the structured program, participants will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. The panel will provide feedback and determine which idea or product is the overall winner and recipient of the major funding.
If you have an innovative idea, an accelerator such as HATCH is a great place to develop your idea with the support of experts, and to meet and collaborate with like-minded people.
What is the purpose of the Accelerator Program?
To support Ecopreneurs to take their idea from vision to reality. If you are a not-for-profit or social enterprise founder with a venture that will drive positive change for wildlife and the environment, we have an amazing network of mentors and experts who can help you bring your vision to life and reach your goals sooner.
What stage should my idea be at to be considered for the Accelerator Program?
We are seeking brilliant initiatives that can make a significant positive impact on wildlife conservation and/or the environment in Australia, and are/will be established as a not for profit or social enterprise organisation. Applicants for the Accelerator Program are required to demonstrate:
• A thorough understanding of the issue you are addressing,
• Relevant technical skills to bring your idea to life (or the ability to source and partner with others with the required skills),
• A completed Business Model Canvas / Social Business Canvas, and
• Results of a first round of market testing for your initiative.
You are likely at the start of your financial journey using funding from your own pocket and personal connections, and looking forward to a time when you can start to bring in revenue/funding to support your venture into the future.
What will the Accelerator Program involve?
The program will be a mix of face-to-face immersive workshops held At Taronga Zoo Sydney, weekly online sessions that you attend from anywhere, and working on your initiative in your own time. The program will culminate with the Pitch Event onsite at Taronga Zoo Sydney – an exciting opportunity for you to showcase your initiative to the public and when we will announce the recipient of the HATCH Grant.
The program will support you to:
• Effectively communicate the problem you are addressing and how your solution drives positive impact,
• Complete market validation for your initiative,
• Develop marketing and digital resources to promote your initiative, and
• Develop your business plan for next 12 months.
What is included in the Accelerator Program?
The Accelerator Program provides participating teams with $30,000 of value per team at no cost. This is a fantastic opportunity for early-stage startups and includes:
- $2,000 seed funding for each team participating in the program (at zero equity);
- A blended approach of face-to-face workshops, online sessions and digital modules to provide you with the knowledge to develop your initiative;
- Flights and accommodation for participants; and
- Expert learning, guidance and support from mentors and subject matter experts including Taronga experts, industry professionals, and not-for-profit and social enterprise leaders.
Participating teams also have the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 equity free at the final Pitch Event to bring your brilliant idea to life!
What are the required time commitments for participants?
The structured elements of this program are:
- Immersive One – a two day/two night intensive in Sydney
- Immersive Two – a two day/two night intensive in Sydney
- Weekly online workshop sessions
- Final Pitch Event – a one and a half day/two night event in Sydney
Participants are required to attend both immersives and the final pitch event in full, and 90% of the weekly workshops. Participants are also expected to work on their initiatives outside of the structured program sessions. If you have an existing clash with any of the program dates, you will have the opportunity to note this in the application form.
What are the eligibility criteria for this program?
Please see further details about eligibility and application process here.
How many individuals/teams will be selected to participate in the program?
We expect the cohort to include 6 – 10 finalists. Each finalist may be an individual or a team of between two and five people.
Do all team members have to attend the entire program?
All team members are required to attend the two immersive retreats and final pitch event in full. Weekly workshop attendance can be shared amongst team members, to be discussed and agreed with the HATCH program team.
How frequently does the Accelerator Program run?
At this stage the program is due to run every 12 months, and the next Accelerator Program will run from March to June 2024. If you are interested to participate in the Accelerator Program, please register your interest on the main HATCH page, and we will get in touch to let you know when applications open.
What happens when the program finishes?
We are excited that you will become part of the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program alumni, and we look forward to keeping in touch with you as you continue to develop your brilliant initiatives! You will gain 12-months free access to the online community platform.
The funding recipient will receive post-program support from Taronga to support you in the next stage of implementation.
Is there a cost to participate in the Accelerator Program?
There is no cost to participate. We want to make our program open and accessible to all potential applicants, so do not require any fee for application or participation. The program will cover the majority of travel expenses for participating individuals/teams based outside of Sydney and accommodation costs for Sydney based founders. Participants may need to pay some personal, food and travel expenses.
Is there funding available through the Accelerator Program?
Yes! All finalists will receive $2,000 per team in seed funding to support their idea development – this will be made available part way through the program once set milestones are met.
The main grant of up to $50,000 will be awarded to one chosen finalist at the end of the program to implement their brilliant initiative and $5,000 awarded to People’s Choice Award Winner.
What did previous Accelerator participants say about the program?
“HATCH program has been an invaluable experience for us. Without the support and direction from this amazing program we wouldn't be where we are. This is one of the best programs out there and I feel extremely lucky that we could be part of it and share it with such a great community.”
“It’s been a wild ride and a lot of hard work. It’s solidified my mission, my drive and pulled me out of my comfort zone. I can confidently say it’s been the best start-up experience I’ve had. Cannot imagine how great it would be in real life!”
"It was a great program and was organised to a very high standard, if you want to learn the skills to kickstart your environmental sustainability based start-up idea then this is the program for you.”
“HATCH provided me with the support and tools to take my big idea and turn it into reality. My time as part of the HATCH community has been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences and I will always value my time with Taronga. Thank you.”
“The HATCH Program is truly an accelerator. During the program, we were able to grow and develop our initiative. The connections we have made has been essential to speed up our progress and bring our idea to life. We learnt so much about the start-up world that would have taken much longer outside of the program. We love HATCH and would recommend it to anyone.”
Eligibility criteria and application process: Pre-Accelerator and Accelerator Programs
What are the eligibility criteria for this program?
To be eligible for the Pre-Accelerator or Accelerator Programs, applications must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants can be individuals or teams of up to a maximum of four (4) people
- All applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents
- All applicants must be 18 years and over
- Applicants/applicant organisations must be:
- A not-for-profit organisation, or
- A social enterprise (with at least 50% of annual profits being reinvested towards achieving the identified social purpose), or
- An individual or team not yet established as either of the above but seeking to establish as a not-for-profit or social enterprise organisation
- If applying as an existing organisation, the organisation will likely have an annual revenue of less than $150,000
- Applicants/applicant organisations must be located within Australia and the initiative must deliver benefits within Australia
- The initiative must practically address a current environmental or conservation issue
- The initiative must demonstrate an innovative, new or creative way of addressing the environmental or conservation issue
- The initiative must align with one or more relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- The initiative must support Taronga’s 360 degree approach to conservation that focuses on wildlife, habitats and communities. The initiative must directly impact at least one of the three areas, and directly or indirectly impact on the other two areas
What does the application process involve?
There are three key parts to the application process:
- Complete the online application form and submit it by the closing date. Please note: the application includes providing a short video to introduce yourself/your team.
- Applications will be reviewed, and shortlisted teams will be asked to provide further information.
- Shortlisted teams will also be required to undertake an interview with our selection panel. Interviews will be conducted via video conference for all applicants.
What are the requirements for the video to accompany the application?
The video should be two (2) minutes maximum. The purpose is for you to introduce yourself/selves and give the HATCH team a feel for your personality and interest in your chosen focus area. In the video please:
- Briefly introduce yourself/selves and your initiative.
- Briefly explain why you are passionate about the issue you have chosen to address.
Please don’t let this requirement stress you. We are not expecting Hollywood quality films – a quick clip recorded on your phone or computer webcam is perfect. Please ensure you answer the questions and stick to the time limit.
Within the online application form there will be a section for you to include a link to your video online. We recommend you upload it to YouTube or a similar platform so you can include the link in your application for us to view the video.
Why does the application form include questions about gender, identifying as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, and reasonable adjustment?
Taronga is committed to building an inclusive and diverse environment for all. This information informs our planning for the Accelerator Program to ensure we can be as inclusive as possible
Can I apply and participate if I am based outside of Sydney, Australia?
Yes, we welcome applications from any Australian citizens or permanent residents who are based anywhere in Australia. You will be required to travel to Sydney for the two immersive workshops and the pitch event at Taronga Zoo, with the majority of travel costs covered by the program.
Are multiple applications permitted from the same individual/team?
Multiple applications are permitted, subject to the following:
(a) each application must be substantially unique; and
(b) each application must be submitted separately and in accordance with entry requirements.
However, please note that only one application per individual/team will be accepted into the Accelerator Program.
I/my team are interested to undertake another accelerator program that runs over the same period. Can I/we participate in both programs?
While we understand there can be value in undertaking multiple programs, we want to ensure that you can commit sufficient time and energy for the duration of the HATCH program. Therefore, we will not accept applicants into the program who have competing program commitments that overlap with our program.
This all sounds great! How do I apply for the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program?
Check out the Application Guide document to provide a copy of the application questions – this will enable you to prepare your answers before jumping into the application form.
Go to the APPLY NOW link on the HATCH webpage to submit your application. Please ensure your application is submitted by the closing date – no late applications will be accepted.