Denham Sadler
August 29, 2017

LaunchVic set to replace 500 fiasco

StartupLand

LaunchVic set to replace 500 fiasco

Kate Cornick: The LaunchVic CEO says the organisation is still seeking a "world-class" accelerator

LaunchVic has announced a new funding round aimed at replacing global startup expertise that was lost when the organisation terminated its contract with troubled accelerator 500 Startups.

Victoria’s government-owned $60 million innovation fund will focus its fourth round of grants on attracting applications from “world-class” accelerator programs.

The round will be open to Victorian, Australian and international accelerator programs and teams, although the organisation has placed a focus on “attracting” programs to the state.

It is looking for the “very best Australian or international accelerators and teams with proven track records for running accelerators”.

The round aims to reinvest the near-$3 million that was originally pledged to 500 Startups to establish a local version of its renowned program. Earlier this month LaunchVic said it would terminate its contract with 500 Startups, one month after revelations that the US-based organisation’s founder and public figurehead was facing allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

LaunchVic initially stood by the original funding decision, but eventually pulled the funding after the local 500 Melbourne boss Rachael Neumann resigned. The $2.9 million pledged to 500 Melbourne was returned to the LaunchVic kitty.

“We said at the time we would reinvest the $2.9 million allocated for 500 Startups to another world-class accelerator program of the same calibre and we’re doing it,” LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick said.

“Successful applicants will need to demonstrate their experience in delivering a world-class accelerator that will help Victoria’s best and brightest startups to achieve on an international scale,” she said.

LaunchVic will invest up to $3 million in a number of programs as part of the funding round. “The number of applications that will be funded is dependent on the quality of applications received,” a LaunchVic spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

“Applicants will need to demonstrate their experience in delivering a world-class accelerator that will help Victoria’s best and brightest startups to achieve on an international scale to be successful,” she said.

The organisation has already provided nearly $3 million to local and international accelerator programs.

These initiatives include US-based StartupBootCamp receiving $600,000; La Trobe University receiving $1 million to run a regional program; Dimension Data and Deakin University receiving $450,000 to run a cyber security; local accelerator Startmate receiving $384,000; and Cultov8 recently receiving $452,000 to run an program for first generation migrants.

“While LaunchVic has invested in a number of accelerators to date, LaunchVic is seeking to invest in a world-class accelerator program that will support global excellence in the provision of services, and global connectivity to help accelerate the very best startups to achieve on an international scale,” Dr Cornick said.

Applications for the new funding round will close on 10 October, with successful recipients to be announced in December.

LaunchVic has also opened another funding round targeting educational services for founders, focused on smaller programs like workshops. This round will close in September with successful recipients to be announced in October.

The rounds are part of LaunchVic’s new strategy, with smaller, more targeted rounds of funding taking place more regularly.

The fund was set up as an independent company at the start of last year, and has since dished out just under $10 million. Dr Cornick said 70 per cent of this capital had gone towards local programs and companies.

LaunchVic said it has made efforts to make the funding application and assessment process more transparent.

The organisation has provided a clear outline of how the grant selection process will take place. Using a new online application system, organisations will submit an application addressing key criteria, including the type of program, organisation and experience of the applicant.

The applicant’s experience will account for 40 per cent of the decision, while the proposed program in Melbourne will be worth 60 percent.

The eligible applicants will then be assessed against the key assessment criteria by an assessment panel made up of two LaunchVic staff and a representative from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, along with a subcommittee of the LaunchVic board.

Shortlisted applicants would take part in an online pitch session to both groups in early November. A further shortlist would then be developed, with due diligence undertaken by LaunchVic and the Department, which would also conduct a financial risk assessment.

The grants committee would then make recommendations for funding to the LaunchVic board, which has the final say on the funding decisions, with Minister Dalidakis then either endorsing or declining these recommendations.

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