Top 10 start-up competitions in the world

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6. Startmate

 

While prize money is regularly thrown at promising start-ups in the US, it’s sadly thin on the ground in Australia.

 

Happily, the situation has improved markedly in just the last six months, with a wave of new initiatives. Startmate is perhaps the premier competition for tech start-ups, offering a decent chunk in initial funding – $25,000 each in return for a 7.5% stake – and ongoing mentoring form some of the leading lights of Australia’s tech scene.

 

The five winners selected for the inaugural Startmate in January also got to head to Silicon Valley to see how they do it Stateside. A welcome addition to Australia’s landscape and, happily, gearing up to return next year.

 

7. SXSW Accelerator 

 

The novelty element of the Startup Bus competition may have grabbed it the media headlines, but the most worthwhile start-up competition at SXSW could well be its Accelerator program, held with Microsoft Biz Spark.

 

Last month, 32 budding entrepreneurs demonstrated their products to a panel of judges that includes Y Combinator partner Paul Buchheit, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Now in its third year, surely it’s time for an Australian category winner?

 

8. Launchpad

 

App-based gaming is a booming area but opportunities can be hard to come by for Australian developers. The Launchpad commercialisation program, overseen by entertainment company Jumbuck, goes some way to remedying this.

 

The scheme chose its first winner, Foolhardy Games, last year and is set to launch a follow-up competition within the next month. Make sure you read the not-so-fine print though – $50,000 investment requires you to give up 50% if your business.

 

9. PushStart

 

We’re giving PushStart a spot for its potential alone, as it only launched a few weeks ago. But for positioning itself as Australia’s answer to the wildly successful Y Combinator, it is to be resoundingly applauded.

 

The deal? There’s an initial Mentor Connect program, which links you up with a mentor. There will then be a separate competition later this year that will identify 10 leading start-ups and provide them with funding, office space and mentoring.

 

Details are still a little sketchy – founder Kim Heras told StartupSmart that the funding will be around $20,000 for a 7-10% stake – but the arrival of PushStart is a very welcome boost for start-ups.

 

10. Enterprize Business Plan Competition

 

The number of entrepreneurial courses delivered by Australian universities is steadily rising and, with them, various start-up groups and competitions have emerged.

 

Melbourne University group Student Entrepreneurs has created the Melbourne University Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, which provides prizes of up to $5,000 for students with a winning business plan.

 

However, the real stand-out is the University of Queensland’s Enterprize Business Plan Competition. Not only does the winning team get $100,000 to commercialise their idea, the competition is open to business plans from student and non-student alike.

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