Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship delivers programs that accelerate the entrepreneurial journey of founders, investors and educators. It was established in 2015 thanks to a $10M gift by entrepreneur and commerce alum Peter Wade.

This article was originally developed and published as part of the University of Melbourne’s 2022 Impact Report, which demonstrates the transformative impact of the generosity of donors and volunteers on the lives of many around the world.

Karolina Petkovic Wade student MoE 2019

For students studying the University of Melbourne’s Master of Entrepreneurship at Wade Institute, the classroom experience is guided by the principle of learning by doing. And for Karolina Petkovic, gaining the skills to forge ahead with her idea was the missing piece of the puzzle.

For the last 17 years, Karolina has worked as a Research Scientist at CSIRO, the scientific research arm of the Australian Government. “I think for scientists, that business side of things is often missing. When scientists acquire those extra entrepreneurial skills, it really makes communication easier on the business development side of things,” she said. Karolina enrolled in a Master of Entrepreneurship part-time to develop her existing idea – an at-home iron-deficiency test which relies on saliva, rather than blood called ‘Iron WoMan’.

“The idea is for people, particularly women, to be able to test themselves for iron deficiency, probably on a monthly basis,” she said. “It’s a really good tool to help people be more in charge when it comes to their iron intake, so they can make adjustments, whether through diet or supplements, to better manage their iron levels.”

Right now, Karolina is awaiting the outcome of her product’s clinical trial while developing her commercialisation plan, thanks to her newly acquired skills. She holds the ultimate goal of seeing the product become something that can be purchased in local pharmacies. “The rate of iron deficiency in the developing world is pretty shocking, sitting at around 80 per cent in Africa. Making it available to people in those parts of the world is something I am very passionate about, as well as helping women.”

Peter Wade entrepreneur wade institute

Powering the startup ecosystem

As an entrepreneur himself, Peter Wade knows the importance of being innovative in business. “We are a smart nation but still too few of our great ideas are generating the future of our economy,” he said.

The Travelbag founder is passionate about helping develop Australia’s future by equipping budding entrepreneurs with the skills they need to create value and opportunity. “I have been involved in supporting education for a while now and it has given me enormous faith in the extraordinary talent of young Australians.”

Wade Institute sits within Ormond College, a historic residential college established at the University’s Parkville campus. The immersive experience gives students an opportunity to be part of a strong community built on innovation and diversity. Alongside the Master of Entrepreneurship, Wade Institute offers VC Catalyst, an executive education program for active investors, building the skills, knowledge and networks required to make successful venture capital investments – and UpSchool, a suite of immersive school programs designed to develop the entrepreneurial mindsets of kindergarten to year 12 students and their teachers.

A community of support

Reflecting on her experience at Wade Institute, Karolina believes that the Master of Entrepreneurship helped her gain confidence in making decisions.

“Wade Institute and the whole experience of the masters has been such a great playground for connecting science and business,” she said. Thanks to Wade’s generosity, more budding entrepreneurs like Karolina are learning the process of trying, sometimes failing, and ultimately picking themselves back up in pursuit of their big ideas.

“People think they have a great idea and they would love to develop it, but they don’t know where to start. Confidence helps you get there, and that’s certainly what my experience at Wade Institute gave me.”