The first funding round for Victoria’s $60 million innovation fund has received nearly 400 applications in a testament to the local ecosystem’s growing momentum, LaunchVic board member Phillip Kingston says.
LaunchVic’s first round opened last month, offering funding for “bright ideas” that would “build the infrastructure and grow the ecosystem”.
Instead of funding individual startups and trying to “pick winners”, LaunchVic CEO Pradeep Philip says the fund wants to find ideas that would create a “more collaborative working environment, add diversity and creativity, generate global interest in Victoria and deliver positive economic returns for the startup community”.
The first round closed last week and received “overwhelming” interest, a further sign that the local ecosystem is becoming more established, Kingston says.
“There’s no doubt that momentum is building – major companies are moving here, bringing operating systems, talent and global connections,” Kingston says.
He says the especial focus on building infrastructure is crucial to transform the state into a global startup destination.
“The best infrastructure to support entrepreneurial and startup ecosystems across the planet is soft,” Kingston says.
“It’s about leadership, stories, networks, culture and attitude. These are features of Austin, San Francisco, New York and other great entrepreneurial centres. There’s no reason Melbourne can’t offer the same.”
LaunchVic’s first funding round is split into “small ideas” – which will be eligible for up to $100,000 – and bigger concepts that can receive far larger amounts of money.
The applications will now be evaluated by an assessment panel, with the successful ideas announced by the end of the month.
Those that focus on the community will have a good shot at getting funding, Philip says.
“Proposals that demonstrate how they are adding something new, how they will benefit Victoria and the ecosystem, which highlight how they will ‘give back’ to the ecosystem, and promote gender, cultural and economic diversity will be viewed favourably in the assessment for funding,” Philip says.
“Our vision is of a Victoria that harnesses creativity and innovation and embraces risk to generate the businesses and growth for a vibrant society.
“Our mission is to make Victoria one of the top places in the world for startups, scale-ups and entrepreneurs.”
Kingston says he wants to help the local ecosystem reach its full potential, and LaunchVic will play a crucial role in this process.
“Through my role at LaunchVic I want to help reduce barriers to Victoria’s startup evolution,” he says.
“This is essential. I also want to help ensure that government intervention strikes the right balance. I’ve got huge ambition for the state. LaunchVic will, and already is, playing a big role in making this a reality.”