MARGARET LIM
August 30, 2016

Diversity is key to Victorian success

Policy

Diversity is key to Victorian success

Philip Dalidakis: Playing to Victorian strengths to build a diverse entrepreneur ecosystem

Diversity is Victoria’s competitive advantage and the key differentiator to building the Number One ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific region, according to Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis.

Mr Dalidakis has unveiled eighteen projects in Victoria to receive $6.5 million as the first round of funding from LaunchVic to invest in the infrastructure of the ecosystem to support start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The projects had been assessed on four key criteria: value-add to Victoria’s acceleration, incubation and co-working capabilities; programs that are ambitious, creative and global-oriented and capable of delivering maximum scale and impact for Victorian entrepreneurs and startups; credible financial projections; and lastly, the ability to strengthen ecosystem collaboration and diversity – including gender, cultural and economic.

The last criteria is what Mr Dalidakis – who is also Minister for Small Business and Trade says will set Victoria apart from other entrepreneur and startup ecosystems in the region.

“Diversity is Victoria’s competitive advantage,” he said. “The first round of funding recipients attests to our mantra of diversity, which we will continue to deliver in the next round of funding.”

The 18 successful projects were chosen from 400 applications for first round funding.

They range from large grants for startup hubs, incubators and accelerators, to smaller grants enabling established organisations to increase their scale, reach and impact.

Fintech Melbourne, a community-run organisation, will receive $30,000 for its ‘small idea’ to help run its operations and to provide value and support to more than 1,800 members. Runway, a major startup initiative in Geelong, will take in $1.25 million for its ‘large idea’ to establish the city as a global centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, creating new businesses and jobs through the provision of mentoring, networks, training and access to venture capital.

Other notable projects include Bright Sparks by RMIT University, which have secured $100,000 to roll out a leadership program to inspire, connect and prepare the next generation of female entrepreneurs in Victoria.

Female students, alumni and staff at RMIT will be given a head-start in business through a network of Australian and international mentors and an intensive leadership program in San Francisco.

La Trobe University, along with Federation and Deakin Universities, will receive $1 million for its regional accelerator program to harness the best and brightest minds of regional Victoria to boost the economy and agricultural jobs.

Participants of the program will have access to funding, office space, structured mentoring schemes, networking and local, national and international pitching opportunities.

Applications for the second round of funding will begin in mid-September, opening the door for even more great ideas to receive funding and realise their potential as part of Victoria’s thriving start-up ecosystem.

Mr Dalidakis reveals that ‘round 2 guidelines will alter slightly with a stronger focus on large grants so as to leverage the ecosystem in greater ways’.

“Victoria is leading the country in start-up and small business growth, with around 8,000 new businesses created in the last year alone, and we need to ensure the right support is in place to help them thrive. The Andrews Labor Government is investing heavily in Victoria’s start-up and tech sectors – the future of job creation in Victoria,” he said.

Launched in November last year, LaunchVic is a $60 million funding initiative aimed at providing the right environment for entrepreneurs to develop, incubate and grow early-stage innovative businesses.

It will be doled out over four years from the $508 million Premier’s Jobs and Investment Fund and will be used to develop and enhance partnerships with entrepreneurs, businesses, educational institutions and the community to accelerate start-ups, drive new ideas and create more jobs in Victoria’s startup sector.

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