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ICT Geelong offers $50,000 prize pot for ICT start-ups

Michelle Hammond /

Early stage start-ups looking to commercialise information and communication technologies are being invited to enter ICT Geelong’s IT Invention Test to share in $50,000 worth of prizes.

 

The IT Invention Test is an investment-pitching competition founded by representative body ICT Geelong, which consists of industry leaders and experts.

 

In a bid to establish Geelong as a major ICT precinct, the competition is focused on helping Australian entrepreneurs commercialise IT-based ideas, concepts and early stage start-ups.

 

Prizes on offer include $10,000 cash for the winner, three entrepreneurship courses at the University of California and a one-day technology entrepreneurship boot camp for the 10 best entries.

 

Other prizes include $5000 cash for the best IT-based sports technology, 12 months mentoring for the best three entries and an opportunity to pitch to angel investors.

 

ICT Geelong manager Craig Hill says the one-week entrepreneurship course – offered to the top three candidates – will be held at the University of California’s Berkeley campus.

 

“They have to pay their own way but the course is valued at about US$8000 … it’s designed to help them commercialise their technologies, either locally or internationally,” Hill says.

 

According to Hill there are three areas ICT Geelong is focused on – IT and energy, IT and health, and IT and manufacturing.

 

“However anything with IT as a major part of its solution is considered… we want to provide a forum or a filtering system with anyone with a great IT-based idea,” he says.

 

“The top 40 entries will receive feedback from the judging panel and the top 20 entries will have the opportunity to do a preliminary pitch, so we’re providing a bit more front-end education than last year.”

 

According to ICT Geelong chairman Robert Reed this year’s IT Invention Test aims to better the inaugural competition in 2010.

 

“We were keen to provide better investment-pitching education to prospective entrants, get greater involvement from the investor community and provide a mentoring program that will help the best entrants succeed with their ventures,” Reed says.

 

Reed says prominent angel investor group Melbourne Angels has come on board as a sponsor of the competition which will provide “valuable, practical education” to the candidates with regard to investment pitching.

 

“As the competition grows … it will provide deal flow for the investor community as well as providing the entrepreneurs with a channel to access funding and business skills to advance their project,” Reed says.

 

The Australian Institute of Sport and the CSIRO, which have forged a research partnership, have jumped on board as competition sponsors.

 

That partnership will see the two organisations provide the $5000 cash prize for the best IT-based sports technology submission.

 

“We are particularly interested in projects that have relevance to athletes and their coaches going into a major event such as the London 2012 Olympics,” Dr Ian Blanchonette of the AIS-CSIRO partnership, said.

 

Reed says he’s particularly excited about the entrepreneurship courses on offer at Berkeley, describing it as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.

 

“The technology entrepreneurship boot camp will offer entrants the chance to work one-on-one with leading entrepreneurs such as Jerry Engel, the founder of the Centre of Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley,” he says.

 

Engel will travel to Australia to facilitate the boot camp.

 

To be eligible to enter applicants must be an Australian-based small-to-medium business; an individual or a team from an Australian university, research organisation or school; or an individual or team residing in Australia.

 

Small-to-medium businesses must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have an ABN.
  • Generate less than $5 million per annum in sales.
  • Employ no more than 20 full-time equivalent employees.

Entrants must also meet the following criteria: 

  • Have not won or been placed in a competition of a similar nature for their project.
  • Have a project that is an idea, concept or prototype, including projects commercially launched less than 18 months ago.
  • Have generated no more than $150,000 in sales (amounts of any existing sales of the product/service must be declared).
  • Have not received any form of venture capital financing (or in the process of). However entries that have received no more than $100,000 of non-venture capital sources (such as state and commonwealth funding) may participate.
  • Declare amounts and the source of any secured funding arrangements.
  • Own or have the right to use the intellectual property developed (or must not be in violation of any intellectual property rights).
  • Each team member must sign a non-disclosure agreement.

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