LaunchVic finally fills vacant chair

James Riley
Editorial Director

Melbourne-based businesswoman and serial board member Laura Anderson has been appointed as the new chair of the troubled LaunchVic, filling a seat that had been left vacant for eight months.

Acting Victorian Innovation Minister Luke Donnellan announced the new chair for the $60 million innovation body in the place of Philip Dalidakis, who is in the US on a trade mission.

Ms Anderson is the current chair of SVI Global, Melbourne Fashion Festival, LKG Advisory Boards, The Good Foundation, CEO Circle and the Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Technology in Schools. She is also on the board of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Epworth Healthcare, Fed Square and the Defence Council Victoria.

Laura Anderson: The serial board member is the new LaunchVic chair 

It follows ex-Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour’s resignation as LaunchVic chair last February. During the protracted, eight month search for his replacement, board member Elana Rubin has served as chair in an interim capacity. understands that Ms Anderson was selected as the preferred candidate two months ago, but has only just been officially appointed. The position is voluntary and unpaid, and is appointed by the state government.

“Laura is extremely well known in Australian and international business circles and her expertise and networks will be invaluable assets to LaunchVic,” Mr Donnellan said in a statement.

“LaunchVic has already overseen several excellent initiatives in the startup sector and we look forward to many more exciting announcements under Ms Anderson’s leadership.”

Ms Anderson has also been an Australia Day ambassador since 2010 and was a founding partner of KPMG Australia’s Risk and Advisory Services for Industry Practice.

She was an advisor on industry and strategy to the Australian Department of Defence from 1993 to 2004, and also has served as an advisor to Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer and General Electric.

Ms Anderson said she’s exciting to get more involved with the local startup community.

LaunchVic as an organisation has undergone major internal changes since Mr Fahour’s resignation earlier this year.

Eight of the initial 11 board members have left the company in the last year, following a government review that found it was too big. The changes were made to “bring it into line with other similar government business entities”, a spokesperson said.

Ms Anderson will now join five other people on the LaunchVic board. The organisation has now dished out $11.4 million in funding to 28 projects, leaving nearly $50 million to deploy in the next two and a half years.

LaunchVic currently has two funding rounds open, one for “world-class accelerators” to replace the funding set aside for 500 Startups, and the other focusing on education services for founders.

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