LaunchVic cash splash continues

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Victorian government innovation fund LaunchVic has splashed another significant funding round, with $4.8 million handed out to health-focused accelerator and education programs.

The agency, formed to deploy the state’s $60 million innovation fund, has been very active lately, handing out $10 million in the last two months and about $25 million in the past year.

LaunchVic will enter caretaker mode along with all other state government agencies at the end of the month in the lead-up to the November election, after which its future remains unclear.

The agency’s eighth round of funding is aiming to “accelerate the growth of Victoria’s health and life sciences startups and bolster Melbourne’s reputation as a leading health-tech hub in Asia-Pacific”.

Successful recipients include Flinders University, which has scored more than $2 million to run the Victorian Medical Device Partnering Program, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which has received nearly $1 million to run the Victorian Health Network Accelerator.

Artesian Venture Partners was given $250,000 to run an angel investor education project, featuring workshops, webinars and community events focusing on investing in health-focused startups.

The events would target 500 potential and active angel investors in the state over two years, Artesian director of business development and government relations Laura Rahn said.

“Artesian has specifically partnered with accelerators and networks within the Victorian healthtech ecosystems to connect angels to investment ready startups. By building a robust network of healthtech angels, and providing them with resources and deal flow for potential investment, we will increase the pool of angel capital in Victoria and ultimately the amount of funded Victorian healthtech startups,” Ms Rahn said.

It’s been a busy few weeks for LaunchVic, which just last week announced the launch of a new accelerator program aiming to open up state procurement for local startups. It contributed $2.5 million along with the Public Sector Innovation Fund to the project, but has not been revealed how much either party put in.

Last month the fund also announced a $1.37 million round focusing on startup activity among Indigenous Victorians. LaunchVic has handed out $25 million to the startup sector in the last year, with a large amount of this being pledged in recent months.

Dr Cornick said this is in line with the organisation’s new strategy which was unveiled earlier this year, rather than a rush to deploy funds before the state election.

This year LaunchVic handed out $7 million to a range of accelerator programs, $2.35 million for investor education schemes, $2.4 million for local governments and $.29 million for founder education services.

It currently has one open round targeted at co-working spaces looking to bring in an expert-in-residence. The round, consisting of $500,000, will remain open until it has been fully allocated, with $25,000 up for grabs per application.

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