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TechStars Network to expand incubator model to Australia

Tuesday, 4 October 2011 | By Oliver Milman
A TechStars-based model is to launch in Australia next year, with the celebrated US start-up incubator handing a licence to an Adelaide-based firm via its TechStars Network program, StartupSmart can reveal.

 

SME Growth Capital was chosen to operate as part of the TechStars Network, a global group of independently-run start-up accelerator programs that operate in a similar way to TechStars in the US.

 

It’s anticipated that the Australian program will roll out in March next year, with applications tentatively anticipated to open in late November.

 

The initiative, which has been given a four-year licence to operate in Australia, will be known as Innovyz Start, to tie in with SME Growth Capital’s own rebranding to Innovyz.

 

The arrival of a TechStars-based incubator scheme in Australia is likely to be warmly welcomed by tech start-ups in the country.

 

TechStars is seen by many industry observers as the world’s premier accelerator of new businesses. Founded in 2006, it operates from four locations across the US, with a global affiliate network launched last year.

 

The program works by offering selected start-ups $18,000 in funding in return for a 6% equity stake. It estimates that 70% of its participants, around 60 businesses a year, receive further funding after completing the three-month TechStars mentorship program.

 

As reported by StartupSmart last month, TechStars recently raised $24 million in funding, boosting the cash available to start-ups to $100,000 each.

 

SME Growth Capital says that it will offer $18,000 in funding to 10 start-ups in the inaugural Australian intake but that amount could rise, with the organisation in talks with potential funding partners.

 

The four-month Australian program will be run by American entrepreneur Jana Matthews, who was one of the original members of renowned entrepreneurial school the Kauffman Center.

 

It will be able to draw upon the IP, contracts and documents of TechStars, although the network will not financially support the new venture in any way.

 

“This is very exciting and it will get even more exciting when these well-known business leaders start working with these start-ups,” Stuart Douglas, senior partner at SME Growth Capital tells StartupSmart.

 

“The hardest thing is to get in front of the right people, so this is a pretty amazing opportunity. We want people with passion, not particularly people who have done it before or who are brilliant managers.

 

“We want innovators of up to three founders that we can build a team around.

 

“Having Jana come out here is very exciting too, as she is one of the top people in the world when it comes to entrepreneurship.

 

“TechStars is very similar to what we do. We work with early stage start-ups, mentor them and bring on the right people.

 

“There will be one program next year and then we may look at running a few programs, such as a mining one in WA, a tech one in the east and an industrial one here. We’ve still got to nail that down.”