Victoria’s startup agency LaunchVic has appointed four new board members, including Leigh Jasper, co-founder of construction unicorn Aconex, as chair.
Jasper is a high-profile appointment that will likely be a boon to the agency, and the state.
A former SmartCompany Smart50 finalist, Aconex was founded in 2000 and went public on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2014, in a $140 million IPO.
In 2017, the construction tech business was acquired by Oracle for a massive $1.6 billion.
Both Jasper and co-founder Rob Phillpot have since remained active in the local startup scene, investing in local startups both within the construction sector and outside of it.
Ilona Charles has also joined the LaunchVic board as non-executive director. Charles is a former chief people officer at Aconex, and later at Oracle, who went on to a stint at CISCO before founding both pivotnow and HR business shilo.
Teresa Engelhard, founder and chief of edtech startup Sticktek, and also a non-executive director at Origin Energy and WiseTech Global, has also joined the board, along with Aurecon’s managing director for government business Aneetha de Silva.
Previous board members Constantine Frantzeskos and Catriona Larritt have also been reappointed for a further three years.
In a statement, Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said Jasper’s experience will be “an enormous asset to LaunchVic and Victoria’s fast-developing startup ecosystem”.
“This is an exciting time for LaunchVic … as we continue to support entrepreneurs and founders, grow investment and create jobs,” she added.
In a tweet, co-founder of VC fund Rampersand Paul Napthali called Jasper’s appointment an “amazing move” by LaunchVic.
“Can’t think of anyone better to continue the great and critical work of driving the growth of the Victorian ecosystem,” he wrote.
Amazing move by @LaunchVic to get @leighjasper as Chair. Can’t think of anyone better to continue the great and critical work of driving the growth of the Victorian ecosystem 👏🏼 https://t.co/15L4VSsiKE
Get COVID-19 news you can use delivered to your inbox.You’ll also receive special offers from our partners. You can opt-out at any time.
— paul naphtali (@napper) July 7, 2020
Jasper himself tweeted about the announcement, saying it’s “great to be a part of LaunchVic”.
“Start-ups [sic] have a critical role in creating the jobs of the future. I look forward to supporting more founders achieve global success from Victoria,” he said.
Great to be a part of @LaunchVic. Start-ups have a critical role in creating the jobs of the future. I look forward to supporting more founders achieve global success from Victoria. https://t.co/Kkkv9FmoOa
— Leigh Jasper (@leighjasper) July 7, 2020
The appointment follows the release of Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 last month.
While Sydney is still ahead of Melbourne in the report’s ecosystem rankings — Sydney came in at 27th, while Melbourne didn’t make the top 30, and was instead named a ‘challenger’ ecosystem — the report did suggest Melbourne is catching up “in some key metrics”.
“For example, Sydney was the first city in Australia to have a unicorn, but now Melbourne has two,” the report said.
In a statement about the report, LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick said Melbourne’s ecosystem is growing faster than anticipated.
“In 2018, Startup Genome predicted the Melbourne ecosystem would be worth over $4 billion in a few years, but [we] have achieved this in just two years,” she said.
“These results show how fast our sector is developing and that it is a key contributor to the Victorian economy.”