Govt funding boost for Muster

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The largest survey of the Australian startup ecosystem has launched for another year, with an expanded remit to act as a matchmaker between tech companies and supporters thanks to $330,000 in new federal government funding.

Startup Muster was founded in 2013 as a wide-ranging survey of the Australian startup sector. It is funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science along with sponsors Google and the University of Technology, Sydney.

The organisation’s aim is to “measure and publish the progress, challenges and opportunities in the ecosystem, in order to demonstrate and accelerate impact”.

After last year expanding the survey to include ‘supporters’ – incubators, accelerators, investors and the like – the new Startup Muster will include a means to make connections between various respondents, CEO Monica Wulff said.

“The supporters can specifically outline the characteristics of a startup they can assist, and the startups that meet the criteria will receive a list of potential supporters and then choose to connect with them or not,” Ms Wulff told

“It’s about giving back to the community more directly. We’ve always captured this data but now we’re utilising it more effectively to accelerate the community.”

Startup Muster was given $330,000 in federal funding in April last year from the Industry department to build the “connections platform” feature, a department spokesperson said.

“This grant supported Startup Muster to develop a ‘connections platform’ whose purpose – as set out in the funding agreement – was to accelerate Australia’s startup ecosystem by providing faster, higher-quality connections to the support startups need,” the spokesperson said.

“The platform will provide the opportunity for timely, regular data and interaction monitoring for the startup ecosystem, which can be extracted, analysed and combined with other datasets.”

The software that was built for this platform now underpins the survey as a whole, the spokesperson said.

As part of this funding agreement, the department will also be receiving “bespoke data analyses” from Startup Muster, which would be used to “support policy development”.

Startup Muster said the connections platform was still at an “experimental” phase, and no data was being shared without expressed permission.

The connections element is one of several changes to the annual survey which paints the most comprehensive picture available of the local landscape for young tech firms.

In past years, regular contributors would have to start from scratch and re-enter all of their information each year. But from 2017 the survey will be a “living and breathing thing” with participants able to actively update information at any point in the year.

Startup Muster is also angling itself as an educational tool for the wider ecosystem, offering the ability for startups to compare what type of support and tools other similar companies prioritised.

The survey will also be asking founders and supporters for the first time if they identify as Aboriginal or as a Torres Strait Islander, and if they are disabled.

The core focus of the survey and its definition of a startup has remained unchanged, however.

Ms Wulff said that the definition it uses for a startup is an “early stage business with a large addressable market that is able to capture that market quickly using technology”.

But this definition isn’t spread widely, with Startup Muster instead looking for companies to self-select, and then vetting each one individually before releasing the statistics.

“We have the post survey validation to determine whether they’ll be included in the statistical sample. We go through every single entry, and we have different mechanisms and processes. We built our own tech around us to help us make our way through it,” she said.

Ms Wulff herself has a background in statistics, and works with a data science team to analyse the large data sets that Startup Muster receives.

The data that participants reveal to the survey are kept secure, she said.

“No-one has access to the raw data, that stays with Startup Muster and we have privacy conditions around that. Often organisations will say that they’d love to get their hands on it, but we talk to them and find out they’d rather have the insights that we already produce,” Ms Wulff said.

“We know the data sets better than anyone.”

The survey will be open until the end of July, with the results expected to be published in October.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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