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Health-tech and renewable energy startups aim for China in Melbourne accelerator program

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 | By Kye White

A new accelerator program is set to launch in Melbourne, looking to take Australian startups and push them into the Chinese market.


The Global Accelerator Program, founded by Jean Dong, will help startups in predominantly the health tech and renewable energy industries partner with large Chinese companies to launch in China.


Dong is the founder of Spark Corporation, an organisation whose goal is to grow the capacity of the Australian and Chinese technology and resource sectors, and Winworld Australia, a company that builds Australian agriculture supply chains and assets.


She recently drafted a memorandum of understanding for Australian-Chinese modern agriculture strategic collaboration under the Free Trade Agreement framework and led negotiations between the Australian and Chinese Governments.


Dong says she’s since realised there’s a real opportunity for Australian startups to thrive in China – with the right support.


“The tradition is for Australian startups to go to America or Europe, where the environment in which you operate, in terms of culture, language and some of the regulations,” Dong says.


“I always explain to them, those things are the challenges, but they’re not the real problem. For a local Australian company it’s very difficult to set up a local office, hire staff; the chance of failure is very high.


“Unfortunately at the moment it is very hard for startups to naturally grow in China. You have to be a top player, and a pretty unique entry into the market.”


The program has partnered with a large Chinese venture capital and private equity fund and office facilities in more than 20 major cities in China. Dong wouldn’t discuss the specifics regarding the accelerator’s terms, but says startups will be charged a fee for consulting time and travel expenses, and then fees in the form of equity in the event participation in the program results in investment or partnerships.


The program will help startups develop a business plan for the Chinese market, source Chinese investors and facilitate negotiations, provide guidance on local employment and business practices, recruit local employees, and provide advice on how to tailor products to suit Chinese consumers.


“Basically we’ll be joining the whole project lifecycle. Heavily involved in negotiating capital funding, designing structure, proposing investment,” Dong says.


“Holding their hand when they step into the Chinese market.”


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