LaunchVic has dished out $1.4 million to five programs focusing on supporting first generation migrants and refugees as part of its third round of grants.
The organisation, established by the Victorian government to oversee the deployment of the state’s $60 million innovation fund, aimed the latest round at programs that would help first generation migrants and refugees in the tech and startup sectors in the state.
The largest grant recipient in this round was Enterprising Partnerships, which has received $452,000 to run Cultov8, a program that involves 10 hackathons across the state, along with a 12-week pre-accelerator program for migrants and refugees.
The organisation said the funding would let it to include up to 300 people in its programs.
LaunchVic CEO Kate Cornick said the focus of the round was decided following the organisation’s revised strategy, which was unveiled earlier this year.
“When we announced our strategy we came up with four areas of focus, and diversity and inclusion was one of them. There are a lot of people doing great stuff to encourage more people to come into the ecosystem, so we wanted to focus on areas that were underrepresented,” Dr Cornick told InnovationAus.com.
“We recognise that migrants and refugees have played an extraordinary role in the global startup ecosystem. This is not purely a feel-good exercise, it’s about meeting the needs of the community that we know can make an enormous impact.”
It’s a direction that is supported by Victorian innovation minister Philip Dalidakis.
“Victoria is built on the back of proud entrepreneurial spirit and migrants and refugees have played a huge part in this. If we continue to harness the potential in this group it will cement Victoria as one of the leading startup destinations in the Asia-Pacific,” Mr Dalidakis said.
This funding round is also the first of LaunchVic’s new strategy, which will see it completely more frequent but smaller rounds of grants with a distinct theme. Round three is significantly smaller than the first two, which saw more than $8 million dished out in total.
“It’s really nice to have focused grant rounds that enable us to build an ecosystem. What we’ve done before has been really beneficial for the time as we started on the LaunchVic journey, but now we’re more mature, and it’s about multiple projects focused on the same area,” Dr Cornick said.
The five grant recipients are:
- Free to Feed – $245,770: To launch an incubator program to engage refugees and migrants in food-based enterprises.
- Enterprising Partnerships – $452,000: To expand the Cultov8 program, with 10 hackathons and a pre-accelerator program for migrants and refugees.
- YGAP – $304,000: To launch of the YGAP First Gens program
- Laika Academy – $322,500: To create of Generation Launch, an innovation program for migrants and refugees.
- Hatch Quarter – $71,500: To create a playbook to help first generation migrants and refugees get involved with the tech sector.
LaunchVic has been embroiled in controversy recently, with the organisation pulling the pin on its near-$3 million funding contract with 500 Startups earlier this month, following weeks of deliberation after revelations emerged concerning its founder Dave McClure.
The organisation said this money had not yet been given to 500 Startups and would be returned to the LaunchVic fund.
Following the revelations surrounding 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, Dr Cornick said LaunchVic would be reviewing its internal processes.
She said this third round of funding had two differences from the previous ones: It was the first to utilise an online application tool, and to include a series of in-person pitch days in front of LaunchVic’s grants committee.
Applications for the round were first assessed by an internal group chaired by Dr Cornick. This group worked with a grants subcommittee of the board to shortlist the applications and refine them to the final five selected.
These were then passed on to the LaunchVic board for final approval, Dr Cornick said.
LaunchVic’s next round of funding would focus on projects delivering education services for founders, including in personal leadership, corporate governance and investment support. This would be for smaller, workshop-style programs, Dr Cornick said, not accelerator programs.
“That round is to really recognise that existing founders won’t have their needs met just by accelerators. Many founders need to gain knowledge, skills and expertise as they go on their journey but can’t afford to take weeks out of their schedule for an accelerator program,” she said.
The fourth round will feature an EOI process which will be reviewed and shortlisted by LaunchVic. According to the organisation’s website, depending on the number of applicants, there will then be a “competitive closed grant round” in each of the specified areas of interest.
Applications for this round would close in early September, with recipients to be announced in October.
LaunchVic is also expected to soon announce a funding round focused entirely on “world-class accelerator programs” to replace the funding that was initially allocated to 500 Startups.