LaunchVic has doubled down on previous investments and dished out a further $2 million to a range of startup-focused programs in the first funding round under its new state innovation minister.
The state’s innovation fund, which received a $10 million, one-year top-up in this year’s state budget, unveiled its Round X last week.
The recipients included seven new programs that received grants of up to $250,000, and five programs that had already been funded by LaunchVic previously, and which have now been given follow-up money to continue their efforts.
Round X, LaunchVic’s 10th funding round, was opened in February, and is the first under the state’s innovation minister Martin Pakula, who took over from Philip Dalidakis following a post-election reshuffle.
The open-ended round with no specific focus signalled a markedly different approach for LaunchVic, which has previously focused on highly specific and targeted areas of the Victorian ecosystem, such as accelerator programs and educational resources.
It also comes as a review into LaunchVic’s future is underway. Mr Pakula has said he is committed to continuing LaunchVic’s funding beyond this year, but that it’s focus will likely turn to more later-stage companies rather than startups.
He said that the Victorian government and LaunchVic are “working collaboratively to address the growing needs” of the wider ecosystem.
“LaunchVic will continue to support early-stage startups, but give more focus and attention to scale-ups and programs that improve the investor landscape,” Mr Pakula told InnovationAus.com.
Of the seven new programs being funded through Round X, four of the companies behind them have already received funding from LaunchVic for different programs.
RMIT will get $150,000 to run MID Open Talent Pathways, aiming to “increase the pipeline of startups and talent in healthtech and sports tech” by targeting post-graduates who are considering working in a startup. The university has previously received more than $200,000 to run two other programs from LaunchVic.
Startup Victoria was given $232,000 to run Growth Club, a peer-to-peer mentoring program for Scaling Startup founders and CEOs to share knowledge with up to 50 participants.
The state-based group previously received $300,000 in LaunchVic’s first funding round to develop a digital platform and map the local ecosystem.
Ygap and Hume City Council also received Round X funding after previously receiving funding in other rounds.
Other programs to receive funding through the new round include VC fund Rampersand, which will run events and mentoring programs to increase investment in diverse Victorian founders, and the Impact Investment Group, which will run the “nation’s first values-focused Impact Angel Network”.
“We have a strong base of investors and founders, and this network will become about creating that safe and collaborative community for early-stage founders to grow,” Impact Investment Group chief executive Daniel Madhavan said.
“Information and power is traditionally with investors, the network aims to diffuse it among founders to empower them and help accelerate the Victorian startup ecosystem,” he said.
LaunchVic has also provided follow-up funding to five programs that have previously received support from the state government.
“Each have made significant impact on Victoria’s ecosystem and with this additional support, the programs will contribute to the further growth of the state’s startup ecosystem,” the organisation said.
StartMate has received a combined $640,000 to run its accelerator program for another two years and to extend its pitch coaching and office hours.
Girl Geek Academy has been given a further $250,000 to run SheHacks in Victoria this year, while Western BACE, Frankston Foundry and Outcome.life have also received follow-on cash.
Through LaunchVic, the Victorian government has “played an instrumental role” in growing startups into high-value firms, with over $45 million invested in grants, 386 companies and organisations and 4800 entrepreneurs backed and a range of other research, sponsorship and educational programs, Mr Pakula said.
“These grants are further evidence of our commitment to supporting early-stage businesses and helping entrepreneurs learn from industry experts, navigate the difficult startup phase and reach their full potential,” he said.
“We’re getting on with encouraging more people to start and grow innovative businesses that can create the jobs of the future right now.”
Despite only providing LaunchVic with a one-year funding guarantee, Mr Pakula has said that he is committed to continuing it beyond 2020, but a review into its focus is currently underway.
The state minister said that the organisation is likely to turn its attention towards later-stage scale-ups rather than startups, with discussions underway with Dr Cornick for further funding.