Canberra start-ups get funding but connections still lacking

Five Canberra-based start-ups have received $170,000 in government grants to develop their products and services, but a local player says Canberra’s start-up scene still has a long way to go.


Under the InnovationConnect (Icon) grant program – an ACT Government initiative – grants of up to $50,000 are provided to help Canberra-based businesses develop products and services.


Successful applicants are required to contribute at least dollar-for-dollar to the grant they receive. Since the program was established in 2008, 93 businesses have been awarded about $2 million.


The latest grant recipients are:

  • Stalkthis awarded $50,000 to develop a retail product that combines the functions of a wish list, shopping basket, advertising platform and social media forum into one account.

  • Kord Defence – awarded $30,000 to develop a generic cable assembly for connecting its Kord Rifle Input Control to different weapon platforms and electronic devices.
  • Trade-Up – awarded $50,000 for the development of a marketable proof-of-concept of the Trade-Up software system based on the masonry trade.
  • Reasonwell – awarded $30,000 for the development of an innovative online platform for collaborative debate and deliberation.
  • Dr Frydoon Far – awarded $10,000 for the trial of an innovative method for the harvesting of blood extracts.

In addition to InnovationConnect, up-and-coming Canberra entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate in business plan competition InnovationACT (IACT), which is currently underway.


The competition is open to all postgraduates, undergraduates and staff of the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the Australian Defence Force Academy and Canberra Institute of Technology.


IACT gives participants the opportunity to generate ideas, develop them into business plans and compete for a prize pool of $53,000.


Rory Ford, a previous employee of Sydney-based start-up incubator Pollenizer, recently moved to Canberra in a bid to boost the start-up scene.


“What I’ve seen, coming down here, is there seems to be a fair bit of money available for innovative start-up companies, and there’s a lot of interest in building start-ups in clean tech and ICT,” Ford says.


Ford says while the ACT Government is a “good, established source” of funding, Canberra has been overlooked from a national perspective.


“I wasn’t aware of the many companies that are down here… [So] I’ve just been building the start-up community down here. I’ve found a fragmented community,” he says.


“I’ve been having coffees with entrepreneurs, investors, angels and people in government.”


Ford is also in talks with several entrepreneurs, including Fishburners co-founder Peter Davidson, about the possibility of establishing a co-working space in Canberra.


“Canberra is one of the few cities left in Australia without a modern co-working space,” he says.


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