About the Program

The goal of the SPARK Sydney program is to help develop our capacity as innovators and entrepreneurs in the medical biotechnology and biosciences areas.

In particular, our goal is to help fund and mentor researchers who have existing or new ideas to translate them into products or services that can benefit patients and the community as a whole.

SPARK Sydney is a program that offers a mechanism for translating basic discoveries from health research into new devices, therapeutics and diagnostics that can be developed and brought into healthcare settings for the benefit of the Australian public. This program is aimed at those researchers who have innovative ideas and have not been able to move them outside of their laboratory.

The SPARK Sydney program will:

  • Educate staff
  • Facilitate mentoring
  • Translate research

The program emulates the successful SPARK program run at Stanford University Medical School for the past 12 years, whilst working within and capitalising on the areas of recognised expertise in Sydney at the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney Medical School and Macquarie University.

Up to $20,000 may be available for winning projects. The final budget will be determined in conjunction with the mentors for that project.

This program will involve mentors, researchers and supporters primarily from University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney Medical School as well as the wider ecosystem including industry, financial, philanthropic and government communities within Australia.

The team


Prof Michael Wallach

Director of SPARK Oceania

Professor Wallach has over 30 years of experience in molecular parasitology with a wealth of experience in both academic and industrial science. In 2008, Michael established a new course in Bio-Innovation and Entrepreneurship where graduates work in small teams to form creative innovative ideas for medical health products. This course has been given locally and internationally culminating in 2016 with a course given at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2013, he was appointed as the inaugural director of the SPARK Sydney program, which was established by UTS and the University of Sydney, to emulate the Stanford SPARK program. Furthermore, Michael played a key role in building SPARK Global, which is expected to be formally established, with the participation of 10 countries, in 2017.

Professor Paul M Young holds the inaugural Chair of Commercialisation in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. His focus is to translate basic and applied sciences into commercial innovations that have real world applications and to drive a culture change in entrepreneurship within the academic community. Paul is also a Professor of Respiratory Technology and Deputy Executive Director of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. His research team focusses on developing advanced drug delivery systems for treating a wide range of respiratory disorders ranging from asthma to Tuberculosis.


Prof Paul Young

Co-Director of SPARK Oceania, Sydney branch


Dr Samuel Banister

Program Co-Coordinator of SPARK Sydney, University of Sydney

Samuel Banister is Team Leader in Medicinal Chemistry with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney. His interest in developing new diagnostics and therapeutics for central nervous system disorders led him to pursue postdoctoral training in radiochemistry, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, and translational medicine at Stanford University. At Stanford University he worked with the ChEM-H Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center to develop a new treatment for amyoptrophic lateral sclerosis, and an out-licensed candidate is advancing to the clinic through Californian start-up Tranquis Therapeutics, Inc. Dr Banister was an active SPARK participant at Stanford University, and is extremely excited about expanding the SPARK program in Australia.

How to Apply

Step 1 – Apply in Early October

Step 1 involves making an application to the committee. The project/idea should address the following criteria:

– Solve an unmet need of significance to human health;

– Have a high likelihood of being implementable into clinical practice;

– Able to achieve results (i.e. proof of concept) using the seed funds within a period of two years; and

– Non-profitable and profitable activities may be supported as long as it provides benefit for patients.

How to Apply

Step 2 – Pitch your idea in late October for commencement in November.

Step 2 involves pitching your idea to a panel of mentors and industry professionals, in a competitive process, to secure your place in the program.

Mentoring is a necessary and valuable component of this program. It is expected that each project will have between 2-4 mentors, with at least one lead mentor.

Mentors will assist in selecting the winning projects and provide advice and feedback to the groups that they are assigned to for mentoring.

If you are interested in getting more information or becoming a mentor contact us.



Sponsors are a necessary component of the SPARK Sydney program. They may also provide guest/specialist lectures or services to further develop strong relationships between the hosts and industry. SPARK Sydney is strongly supported by:

Get in Contact

If you have any questions about the SPARK Sydney course or are interested in providing your expertise to our teams as an industry mentor, we would love to hear from you!