Frequently asked questions

Interested in HATCH and want to know more? Check out the FAQs below.

If you have further questions, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us at hatch@zoo.nsw.gov.au.

Hatch: Taronga Accelerator Program logo

Program overview

What is the purpose of the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program?

To inspire, support and launch innovative ideas 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 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 initiative aligns to Taronga’s 360 degree approach to conservation – this approach involves supporting wildlife, habitat and communities to drive change that supports the whole ecosystem. 

Take a look at our 2020 HATCH teams and past 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 stage should my idea be at to be considered for HATCH?

We are seeking early stage ideas that will ideally develop into not for profit or social enterprise organisations. Applicants are required to articulate their concept and may have done preliminary audience assessment, but do not require a minimum viable product (MVP) to have been developed.

You may have developed a high-level business plan or be working from some back of the napkin plans, and now need support to develop it further. 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 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.

Regardless of your background and the exact stage of your idea, here’s some key attributes we’ll be looking for:

  • A brilliant idea that can make a significant impact to support conservation and the environment in Australia
  • A passion for your idea and the challenge it will address
  • 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)
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident 
  • A strong commitment and drive to developing your idea into a successful initiative

What are the key program timeframes?

Please refer to the specific program dates on the HATCH main webpage.

What did the 2020 HATCH participants say about the program?

Here are the testimonials from the five teams that participated in the 2020 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

What are the eligibility criteria for this program?

To be eligible for the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Applications will be reviewed, and shortlisted teams will be asked to provide further information.
  3. Shortlisted teams will also be required to undertake an interview with our selection panel to be held in early May 2020. 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: 

  1. Briefly introduce yourself/selves and your initiative.
  2. 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 (travel restrictions permitting), 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. 

Once applications open at the end of March 2021, 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.

Accelerator program

What will the Accelerator Program involve?

The program will be a mix of face to face immersive workshops held in 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 – an exciting opportunity for you to showcase your initiative to the public and when we will announce the recipient of the HATCH Grant.

How many individuals/teams will be selected to participate in the program?

We expect the cohort to include four finalists. Each finalist may be an individual or a team of between two and five people.

What are the required time commitments for participants?

The structured elements of this program are: 

  • Immersive One – a two and a half day/two night intensive in Sydney 
  • Immersive Two – a two day/two night intensive in Sydney 
  • Weekly 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. 

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 is the program planning to manage unexpected COVID or other disruptions?

We are really hopeful this year we can run the program in the planned blended format, with participants coming to Taronga Zoo in Sydney for the immersives and pitch event. However, if COVID or other unexpected issues prevent participant travel, rest assured the program will go ahead and be delivered online. We successfully delivered the full 2020 program online so we know we can do it again if needed, and for 2021 we have scheduled both in-person and online dates for the immersives to be prepared either way. 

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! 

The funding recipient will receive post-program support from Taronga to support you in the next stage of implementation. 


Do I have to pay to be part of this Accelerator Program?

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. Participants may need to pay some personal and travel expenses to participate.

Is there funding available through the 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.