improving global
access to nutrition 

How Siobhan’s passion for
nutrition and innovation saw her
turn an in-class capstone project
into a new business idea.

The MBA graduate improving
global access to nutrition 

How Siobhan’s passion for nutrition and innovation saw her
turn an in-class capstone project into a new business venture.

How can we feed a growing global population without costing the earth? Siobhan Coster is working with CSIRO to produce a sustainable, scalable and accessible form of nutrition.

Two years ago, Siobhan was busy running her e-commerce business selling sustainable products like menstrual cups and reusable makeup pads. But she was missing something. With a background in nutrition, she decided to advance and cement her passion with business experience by enrolling in the UQ Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Once she started the program, Siobhan realised the practical business skills she was learning could easily apply to her career.

“I was able to apply a lot of what I was learning to my e-commerce business,” she said. “For example, Operations Design allowed me to implement inventory tracking spreadsheets and helped me improve how I was operating the business. The Strategy course helped me look at the future and new ways of using my business. Management Frameworks provided a unique opportunity for personal development and helped me understand what my values were.”

See what classes you’ll study as part of the UQ MBA.


A supportive community to facilitate learning

It was important to Siobhan to connect with and learn from the other students in the MBA cohort.

“I travelled from the Sunshine Coast to attend MBA classes in Brisbane because connecting with your peers and your lecturers in person is so valuable,” she said. “There are things you can learn from others when you’re in the same room that you’d miss out on if you only studied online. For example, there were so many times people shared their individual experiences off-the-cuff in conversations between lessons or outside the classroom.

“The UQ community was another one of my favourite things about studying at UQ”, she said. “You really feel like you’re part of something more, something bigger than yourself.”

“It surprised me that I didn’t need to feel as intimidated as I first thought. Everyone’s there for the same reason – for personal and professional growth. Before I started the MBA, I thought everyone would fit a certain mould. But there’s so much diversity between the people studying the MBA, because of their backgrounds or their career paths.”

Siobhan valued the support she received during the program from peers, lecturers and other support staff at UQ. As she continued to develop her business capabilities, she became interested in learning more about other career opportunities. “I accessed a lot of career support as a student, particularly when I was starting to look for work towards the end of my degree," she said. The MBA Careers and Professional Development Team helped me in so many different ways. They helped me identify potential positions, careers and industries within my area of interest, update my CV and prepare for interviews. They are an incredible resource to be able to lean on.”


An in-class capstone project that led to a new career path

MBA students can apply what they’ve learned to real innovations or business ideas during one of two 3-month capstone projects. Siobhan chose to enrol in the entrepreneurship capstone.

“I really wanted to develop my innovation and entrepreneurial skills because that’s the career path I wanted to pursue,” she said. “I had a business idea that I wanted to test. As part of the course, you learn how to apply entrepreneurial theory to build, grow and scale businesses.

“At the beginning of the course, the MBA team present you with a few different companies you can work with. At the time I did my capstone project, one of these companies was CSIRO.

“During this project, I worked with CSIRO and 2 other students to identify commercialisation opportunities for this amazing technology CSIRO has, called precision fermentation. We came up with a nutritional ingredient startup, which uses this technology to sustainably make crucial nutrients from yeast, such as lactoferrin, an immunity-boosting protein nutrient found in breast milk.”

At the beginning of the project, CSIRO told Siobhan that if she could validate the market need, she could pitch her business idea to them.

“This is how I ended up in the position I’m currently in, where I’m working with CSIRO as a Venture Builder on a food technology startup,” she said.

Siobhan's startup, Eclipse, aims to create a new way to source vital nutrients and become one of the world’s top suppliers of nutritional ingredients. The traditional process of creating lactoferrin relies on 10,000 litres of dairy milk to get just one kilogram of lactoferrin. This nutrient costs an average of $1500 a kilogram, but has been known to cost as much as $5000 a kilogram. As a result, the nutrient is in short supply globally with a lot of formula-fed infants missing out on this crucial nutrient.

Working with CSIRO and using the sustainable and scalable technology called precision fermentation, Siobhan hopes to create this nutrient using yeast and achieve economies of scale. Ultimately, better access to this nutrient will be a great step towards improving the well-being of our ever-growing global population. While still in the development stage, the plan is to have commercial products available in the next 1824 months. 

The technology also has the potential to benefit adult consumers through supplements and functional drinks.

Learn more about the capstone projects you’ll study as part of the MBA.


Supporting the next generation of women in the MBA

Siobhan is passionate about closing the gender gap for entrepreneurs and in the venture capital funding space. She received the 2021 MBA Women’s Leadership Prize. In 2023, Siobhan and seven other MBA students and alumni launched The UQ MBA Women's Network.

“The UQ MBA Women's Network is a new community we’re building to support and connect women throughout their MBA journey and beyond. As women, we are a minority in the cohort, and we want that to change.”

“The impact the UQ MBA has had on my career has been incredible,” Siobhan said. “It has literally changed the course of my career direction for the better. I’m now working in a field that combines my two passions, food and nutrition with business. Without having studied the MBA at UQ, I wouldn’t have the opportunity that I have now.”

Learn more about how the UQ MBA supports women to achieve their career ambitions.