Incubator dollars start to flow

James Riley
Editorial Director

Amid growing concerns at the trickle of money being assigned under the Incubator Support initiative, Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos will today unveil four new incubator projects worth $1.4 million, including two in regional cities.

The first funding tranche of the $23 million program had been announced as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda in December 2015. And yet until today only one grant of $500,000 had been made under the scheme – and that was earlier this month.

Senator Sinodinos said the government remained committed to the program, and restated its intention announced as part of the budget three weeks ago to put additional focus under the scheme on regional development.

Arthur Sinodinos: Turning the tap on the $23 million Incubator Support initiative

The four grants to be announced this morning are:

  • Flinders University has been given $196,265 to expand the New Ventures Institute to assist innovative advanced manufacturing focused start-ups in Adelaide
  • Sydney-based corporate accelerator Slingshot, in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, has been given $474,535 to establish the I2N Regional Accelerator to identify, invest in and support up to 16 Hunter region startups, and assist potential entrepreneurs at the ideas stage
  • The Studio Incubator in Sydney gets $500,000 to foster and support new media and creative technology startups through accelerator programs, networks and mentoring, links to private equity and capital, and access to studio facilities and other technology
  • The Advance Innovation Hub in Brisbane has been given $268,674 to provide hardware-based startups access to innovative prototyping, manufacturing equipment and industry specialists.

The only other grant recipient under the program so far is the Darwin Innovation Hub, which received $500,000 in early May.

“I’m delighted to announce this funding, which will help establish new incubators in Brisbane, Sydney and the Hunter region of New South Wales and expand the services of an existing incubator in Adelaide,” Senator Sinodinos said.

“These incubators will assist start-ups developing new products and services in advanced manufacturing, media and creative technologies and technology hardware, amongst other sectors,” he said.

“Incubators and accelerators are a vital part of effective innovation ecosystems. They provide hands on support to ensure Australia’s start-ups have the best chance at success.”

The Studio chief executive officer Chantal Abouchar welcomed the funding and its support for next-generation arts-based tech entrepreneurs.

She said the creative sector had traditionally been easy to ignore due to the highly fragmented nature of ‘arts’ – but the rise of creative-tech and media-tech companies like Canva, 99 Designs (locally) and Netflix and Pandora (globally) showed how much potential exists in the space.

“In much the same way that Stone & Chalk offers a hub, a home and a unified voice for startups in the well-supported FinTech sector, we believe that The Studio will become the ‘go to’ advocate for the create/media tech sector,” Ms Abouchar said.

“Growth in the media industries in the next decade is focused in the Asian region, Australia is well placed to take advantage of this. The Studio aims to foster links to Asia to assist and grow Australian startups,” she said.

Using the creative industries (STEAM) as a pathway to encourage more women and girl’s participation in STEM and tech startups is another area focus of The Studio Incubator.

Senator Sinodinos said “Incubators and accelerators are a vital part of effective innovation ecosystems. They provide hands on support to ensure Australia’s start-ups have the best chance at success.”

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