Victorian government startup agency LaunchVic has been given a $10 million funding top-up as part of the state budget, and will continue operating for at least the next 12 months.
The Victorian budget, handed down on Monday by Treasurer Tim Pallas, included $150 million over two years for the new Victorian Jobs and Investment Fund.
Of this funding, $10 million will go towards LaunchVic to “continue its work supporting local startups and to attract world-class innovation and investment projects that grow jobs and productivity across the state”.
The funding has been allocated for the next 12 months.
“We’re delivering $10 million for LaunchVic to continue supporting local startups so that they can create the jobs of the future and excel on the world stage,” Victorian innovation minister Martin Pakula told InnovationAus.com.
“LaunchVic’s funding will be sourced from the $150 million Jobs and Investment Fund. I have no doubt that a range of innovative companies and investments will be supporting by that fund, well beyond the $10 million dedicated to LaunchVic in 2019-20.”
LaunchVic was established as an independent government agency responsible for deploying the state’s $60 million innovation fund in early 2016.
It had deployed about $38 million in grants as of the start of 2019, and its funding agreement with the state was set to come to an end in June.
The agency has been set a target of supporting at least 70 companies or new entrants in 2019-20.
This is down from a target of 120 for the 2018-19 financial year and 122 in the previous year.
“The lower 2019-20 target reflects a more targeted focus of LaunchVic programs to increase impact,” the state government said.
LaunchVic provides funding for programs or organisations that form the infrastructure for the state’s tech and startup sector, rather than direct funding for individual companies.
It has allocated funding across 10 rounds, each with a specific focus, including on accelerator programs, founder education and supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Its latest funding round, announced in February, was the first time LaunchVic had done an open-ended round with no specific focus – dubbed Round X.
LaunchVic ramped up its activities in the second half of last year, deploying nearly $12 million across a range of funding rounds.
The organisation had earlier been hit with controversy after eventually deciding to pull $2.9 million in funding it had committed to US accelerator giant 500 Startups before its founder was accused of misconduct by several women in mid-2017.
It recovered all the money and went on to open a new funding round for “world-class accelerators” to replace it.
The new $150 million Victorian Jobs and Investment Fund will support “opportunities of state significance” to create jobs and economic growth, attract private sector investment in the state and attract “innovation and jobs projects”.
It is similar to the fund that was used by the Victorian government to attract a series of high-profile global tech companies to set up a Melbourne office, including Slack, GoPro and Zendesk.
“This initiative builds on Victoria’s existing economic strengths and supports investment and innovation, which will help create sustainable jobs for Victorians and drive long-term growth in the state,” the budget said.
“It also streamlines Victoria’s economic development focus and decision-making framework, ensuring that the planning and implementation of development projects is well coordinated across the state.”
The state government will also provide $5 million for international trade missions, and for training and skills programs focusing on the export capability of local businesses.
“We will strengthen our economy and deliver jobs by growing key industries, connecting with global economies and investing in the innovation, skills and opportunities we need to succeed,” Victorian innovation minister Martin Pakula said.
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