Qld SportsTech accelerator scores state backing

Brandon How

A new SportsTech accelerator has received funding from the Queensland Investment Corporation as a part of the state’s $130 million initiative to attract venture capital and encourage startups.

Announced on Friday, the Australian Sports Technologies Network’s (ASTN) accelerator will support up to 40 Queensland SportsTech businesses to undertake a series of entrepreneurial programs tailored to the sector.

The accelerator is being funded through the Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF), which has already committed funding to five other accelerators. Of the headline $130 million, there is $30 million earmarked for the accelerators, with rest used to lure venture capital firms with matched funding.

Australian Sports Technologies Network executive chair Dr Martin Schlegel.

The ASTN accelerator will provide early-stage mentorship and help identify scalable companies that are investment ready. The industry body behind it has already supported 750 SportsTech entrepreneurs since 2011 across several innovation support programs, including previous accelerator and pre-accelerator rounds.

The ASTN’s 2023 sports innovation report estimates that the industry generated $4.25 billion in annual revenue, putting it on par with the FinTech industry.

Most SportsTech startups supply products and services that support coaching and training, event operations, and stadium and venue technologies, according to ASTN.

The report also found that the SportsTech industry has a high concentration in South-East Queensland, which was home to 19 per cent of SportsTech startups and 18 percent of workers.

“Queensland has a higher ratio of early-stage startups compared to other states, and we are actively building that pipeline from early stage to growth stage,” ASTN executive chair Dr Martin Schlegel said in a statement.

“In recent years we have witnessed a rapidly growing sportstech cluster along Australia’s eastern seaboard. By providing dedicated programs for Queensland entrepreneurs, startups and scale ups, we can capitalise on this growth and further bolster the local sportstech ecosystem in the lead up to Brisbane 2032 and beyond.”

It was also announced earlier this week that the QVCDF, run by the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), would invest directly in four additional venture capital firms to bring or expand their operations and potential startup funding in the state.

In a statement on Friday, QIC investment director Leo Channon said that to sustain growth and demand for innovation in the state, it needs to “be cultivating a pipeline of investment-ready businesses that provide quality deal flow to these VC funds”.

“That’s where the accelerator programs come to the fore, and in ASTN, you have a demonstrated track record of scaling and commercialising technologies, helping startups secure millions in early-stage and venture capital funding,” Mr Channon said.

The five previously announced accelerators receiving QVCDF funding are agritech focused Farmers2Founders, climate tech accelerator EnergyLab, The University of Queensland’s UQ Ventures, healthtech program Lumina X and the VC-led 77 Venture Challenge.

When the first five accelerators were announced in February, it was noted that the program would be delivered over a two-year period.

At the time QIC said the fund would support 168 companies through the funded accelerators.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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