Two Australian accelerators have made it onto the global list of top university business incubators produced by University Business Incubator Index, a global best practice benchmarking group.
Over 150 incubators from 22 countries were assessed on over 50 indicators.
Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, run by the University of the Sunshine Coast and ATP Innovation accelerator – owned by the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Australian National University and University of Technology, Sydney – tied fourth with three others from around the world. ATP Innovation also works with the University of Wollongong.
Mark Paddenburg, chief executive at Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, told StartupSmart the recognition was especially exciting as a regional university.
“We were a bit surprised, with it being a global index,” he says.
“Our model is tested and working well at the moment, and the university, our number one stakeholder, is comfortable with our model. We’re looking at diversifying revenue streams and making sure we’re relevant to start-ups.”
Paddenburg says his team of four staff and 10 mentors work closely with ATP Innovations and other university accelerators around the world to ensure they’re following best practice.
“We’re constantly comparing notes about what really works, what adds the most value for start-ups and what we can outsource,” he says. “You need to provide good facilities, flexible leases and great connectivity.”
He says connectivity and internet service was a key drawcard in a regional area still four years away from the rollout of the national broadband network.
“For groups that want to remain on the Sunshine Coast, not go to the city and do major uploads and downloads, this is the place they need to be.
“But it’s also about the people. We make sure the team has the right approach. They have to have empathy for the start-ups, creative and entrepreneurs, but also be able to offer tough and realistic advice.”
There are 26 resident companies and eight virtual clients that use the mentoring and support services. Paddenburg says they intend to add a few more start-up residents and seven more virtual clients in the coming months.