University appoints first Chief Student Entrepreneur

The University of Adelaide is the first university in South Australia to appoint a Chief Student Entrepreneur who will raise awareness of programs designed to support current students with developing their innovation skills and entrepreneurial mindset.

Sam Messina holding an Ortomi, a robot companion he designed and produced with Christian Alexandru. Photo: The University of Adelaide.

Sam Messina is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ortomi, based at the University of Adelaide’s business incubator ThincLab. He and Christian Alexandru design and produce robot companions which are now sold in over 13 different countries around the globe, and primarily to the US and European markets.

Sam is in his final year of an electrical and electronic engineering degree at the University.

“Christian and I have been involved in a number of different projects as part of the ThincLab ecosystem since 2020,” says Sam Messina.

“We designed Ortomi’s as simple little companions to help with mental health issues such as loneliness and social anxiety. Since we started, sales have been growing rapidly and we are very excited for the future.”

“The skills we have developed in electronic engineering here at Adelaide University have been fundamental to our success.”

The Ortomi robot pets keep their owners company, enjoy being petted and take naps, as well as reminding them to relax and generally liven up their work space.

-Professor Noel Lindsay, Dean of the Adelaide Business School and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Entrepreneurship, the University of Adelaide.

“Entrepreneurship is a critical part of every student’s skillset that will enable them to make a positive contribution to society,” says the University of Adelaide’s Professor Noel Lindsay, Dean of the Adelaide Business School and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Entrepreneurship.

“Sam will provide advice to other students who are looking to work on their own businesses while completing their degrees at the University of Adelaide.”

Sam and Christian, who are past winners of the international Gravity02 Space Innovation Challenge, plan on working on the business full time after they graduate.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of South Australia’s, and the nation’s, economic growth and development,” says the University of Adelaide’s Dr Jessica Gallagher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement).

“A University of Adelaide education gives students exceptional opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills as an integral part of diverse fields of study.

“Consistent top results in world-wide rankings reflect the quality of the education that our students receive which prepares them for a rewarding career.”

Sam will hold the position of Chief Student Entrepreneur until he graduates at the end of 2022 after which he will support selection of a new Chief Student Entrepreneur.