Victoria’s FinTech hub mystery

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Victorian government is still yet to decide who will run its FinTech hub in Docklands, which is now running more than a month behind schedule.

The Victorian Fintech Hub was announced in June this year, with a competitive tender process closing in mid-July. The government had earlier said that it would evaluate the tenders in August and enter an agreement with an operator by early September, with the hub to open “as soon as possible”.

But the state government is understood to still be picking between a small handful of applications, with a decision not expected until at least the end of this month.

Victoria calling: Still waiting for the announceable on the Goods Shed understands the government has zeroed in on two or three shortlisted candidates to run the hub, and may be planning to announce the final decision at the government-funded Intersekt FinTech conference at the end of October.

A government spokesperson confirmed that the decision hasn’t been made.

The tender was looking for “experienced innovation hub operators” to anchor a 1500sqm space in the Goods Shed North in Docklands, which is also home to Data61’s cyber security and innovation hub.

The government would provide funding for the design and fit-out, rent and other support measures for at least three years. This funding would come from the state’s $200 million Future Industries Fund.

The successful applicant is expected to provide targeted mentoring, incubation and accelerator services, and will be measured on a number of key performance indicators, including employment growth, value-add form startups, funding attracted from corporates and the amount of venture capital funding brought in by residents.

An extra 500sqm of space is also potentially available to the FinTech hub next year.

The FinTech hub falls under innovation minister Philip Dalidakis’ department, who has been embroiled for much of this year in the controversy that has followed LaunchVic and its earlier involvement in 500 Startups.

“The hub will strengthen the local FinTech sector by bringing startups together with investors, industry corporates and researchers in one concentrated and collaborative workspace. What we’re trying to create is world-class,” Mr Dalidakis said in June.

“This presents opportunities to explore beyond the Australian boundary. What we’re trying to do is create success that isn’t just going to support Victoria, but that is going to lead Australia.

The government is believed to be considering local, national and international candidates to run the hub, with Stone & Chalk having emerged as a clear favourite. The Sydney-based FinTech hub recently expanded to Melbourne with an interim base in the CBD shared with agritech accelerator SproutX.

Stone & Chalk is understood to be one of the candidates shortlisted by the state government and still in the running to operate the Victorian FinTech Hub.

The concept for a Victorian FinTech hub at the Goods Shed North was initially proposed to the state government by York Butter Factory as early as 2014, according to YBF co-founder Darcy Naunton.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions and proposals with the government over the last two and a half years about the Goods Shed’s potential to be an iconic Victorian startup location, and they have consistently displayed openness and excitement about the idea,” Mr Naunton said in June.

“Startup businesses and government are at opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to speed of execution so there have been foreseeable and understandable frustrations,” he said.

“It is nonetheless encouraging and exciting to see that the process is now one step closer to realising an outcome for Victoria.”

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