Blue Chilli, Flinders University, Collective Campus and FD Global Connections may be the latest recipients of grants under the federal government’s $23 million Incubator Support program, but only one of them meets the scheme’s new criteria announced in May.
When the Incubator Support program was first unveiled last year as part of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, it was designed to help Australian incubators improve the commercial prospects of Australian startups in international markets, including Asia and the US.
While it still will remain open to incubators, the government announced changes in the May Budget that put greater focus on helping regional incubator programs.
A spokesperson for the Assistant Minister for Innovation Craig Laundy told InnovationAus.com that this was part of a conscious effort to ramp up the importance it put on regional development.
“The Australian Government announced the Incubator Support initiative will be expanded to provide further support for regional incubators and accelerators and build on the current initiative,” the spokesperson said.
Final details of what those changes will be were still being finalised, the spokesperson confirmed.
However, whether or not these changes have come into effect yet, based on the initial outset of the initiative, the government still has some work to do.
Currently only three out of the nine applicants are regional-focused. Of the latest funding round, only one out of four incubators is from a regional area. The latest incubator recipients are:
- $500,000 for Flinders University’s New Venture Institute, to establish the eNVIsion Limestone Coast incubator at Mount Gambier in South Australia. This program will deliver localised acceleration and innovation programs, workshops and international study tours
- $500,000 for Blue Chilli Technology to expand the SheStarts Global Growth Accelerator, which helps later-stage, female-led companies develop skills for scaling their businesses and establishing distribution channels in the US and Asia
- $500,000 for Collective Campus to broaden its Corporate Accelerator programs
- $73 000 for FD Global Connections, partnering with Tyro Payments Limited, to deliver their “USA Accelerate Program”
Previous successful recipients from regional Australia are Darwin Innovation Hub and I2N Regional Accelerator in the Hunter region
“The Incubator Support initiative is open to regional and metropolitan applicants. It is a competitive and merit-based program. Only applications that score highly against the merit criteria are supported. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added the success of recipients is tracked based on an evaluation framework to ensure they address two key objectives: improve the prospects of commercial success in international markets and develop Australia’s innovation ecosystem including in Australian regions.
“Some of these performance indicators include, but are not limited to: number of start-ups successfully entered into new markets; and number of start-ups who successfully gained private investment.
“The deliverables of each funded project must align with the initiative’s intended outcomes, and applicants are required to report against these on a regular basis as part of their contract with the Commonwealth.”