The Victorian government is zeroing in on the sports tech and AgTech sectors with the establishment of a $4 million hub and $2.2 million in grants for pre-accelerator programs.
A new Australian Sports Innovation Centre for Excellence will be established in Cremorne, in the city’s south-east, with $4 million in funding from the Victorian government, which it said will create 2000 tech jobs in the next four years.
The state government has also launched the $2.2 million Victorian AgTech Entrepreneurs Initiative, with grants on offer for pre-accelerator programs focusing on the agricultural sector.
The sports tech centre of excellence will be run by the Australian Sports Technologies Network, and will fast-track the commercialisation of new products and in attracting national and international partnerships for the sector.
The state government said Victoria is already home to more than 65 per cent of the country’s sports technology companies, including heavyweight Catapult Sports, with more than 7500 people employed in the sector.
“With a rapidly growing tech sector and an established reputation as Australia’s sporting capital, Victoria is perfectly positioned to become a leader in the global sports tech industry,” Victorian Innovation Minister Jaala Pulford said.
“We can see the potential in our sports innovation sector to commercialise and scale-up new products to international markets and create exciting opportunities for Victoria.”
It will be the first centre of its type in Australia, Australian Sports Technologies Network chair James Demetriou said.
“For the first time Australia will have a dedicated centre of excellence where the sector can connect, celebrate, learn skills, initiate further exports and benchmark best practice in sports technology, innovation and digital,” Mr Demetriou said.
On the AgTech funding, grants of up to $600,000 will be on offer to organisations offering pre-accelerator programs that support early-stage startup founders in developing their product and business model and connecting with investors.
The initiative will be run as a partnership between Agriculture Victoria and the state’s startup office LaunchVic, with a series of regional events to also be held.
It’s part of the broader $15 million AgTech Regional Innovation Network, with applications closing on 27 October.
“Accelerating the growth of Victoria’s AgTech startups will create jobs and growth, as well as opportunities for our farmers to use cutting-edge tools, data and technology which will drive efficiency, productivity and sustainability,” Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Ann Thomas said.
“With one of the world’s most modern and productive agricultural systems, Victoria is well placed to lead Australia as a powerhouse for AgTech innovation and entrepreneurship.”
According to LaunchVic data, only 40 of Victoria’s 2000 startups are operating in the AgTech space.
“Farmers are natural innovators, constantly adapting to droughts, changing seasons and now, global pandemics. Pre-accelerator programs translate this ingenuity into a framework for success so that from little things, big things grow,” LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick said.
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