Global startup accelerator makes Perth its Australian home

Founders Factory, a UK-based startup accelerator with global reach, will set up an Australian presence in Perth to offer a “springboard” to early-stage startups tackling decarbonisation challenges.

The Founders Factory Nature & Biodiversity Tech Accelerator will receive $7.2 million from the Western Australia government over the next three years, WA Premier Roger Cook announced on Thursday.

Mining giant Rio Tinto has also announced a separate accelerator program with Founders Factory, with plans to invest $14.4 million in pre-seed and seed stage startups developing and commercialising breakthrough mining technologies.

The three-year backing from both the public and private sectors will see Founders Factory set up a local team in Perth to provide a four-month program of support in product development, operations, commercialisation, data science, partnerships and fundraising.

WA Premier Roger Cook and Digital Economy minister Stephen Dawson with RORI the robot. Image: Supplied

The hub will be the tenth location for Founders Factory, which was set up in 2015 to help build and fund startups, with programs already being run from cities like London, Milan, Berlin, Johannesburg and New York.

The organisation, which focused on FinTech, climate, health and Deep Tech, has already backed more than 300 companies, giving it global reach and the ability to attract international founders to WA.

WA Premier Roger Cook described the new hub as a “major coup” for the state, providing a “springboard for innovative local business to reach an international audience and maximise their chances of success”.

“My government is committed to decarbonising our economy by 2050 and it’s vital that we support local start-ups developing the technology to reach this goal,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Government funded focus areas for the Perth hub will include reforestation and protection, land management, regenerative agriculture, water and coastal regions, sustainable infrastructure, and the circular economy.

Digital Economy minister Stephen Dawson said the program will provide “targeted support for our local nature and biotech startups” and welcomed the additional funding from Rio Tinto to support the development and commercialisation of mining technology.

“This is another significant and strategic stepping stone in building our innovation infrastructure and ecosystem and setting up Western Australia as a place of choice for world-leading researchers and innovators,” he said.

“Investing in initiatives that fuel ideas and solutions leads to the development of new markets, supports diversification of the WA economy and creates more jobs for Western Australians.”

Rio Tinto will, meanwhile, back the development of technologies in areas like safe mine operations, decarbonisation, exploration processing and automation, to ensure its iron ore operations in the Pilbara remain the “most technologically advanced in the world”.

“This exciting new partnership gives us the opportunity to build on our innovative legacy to unlock new technologies and help our business find better ways to provide the materials the world needs,” Rio Tinto chief executive Simon Trott.

Founders Factors president George Northcott said the partnership with the state government and Rio Tinto will “help more founders be successful whilst commercialising the best global technologies within the WA ecosystem”.

“We believe that entrepreneurs and technology can solve the world’s hardest problems. Preserving nature and the decarbonisation of industry are key challenges in the world today and we are thrilled to be extending our operations to Perth,” he said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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