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Melbourne University announces accelerator program intake, calls for unis to do more for start-ups

Tuesday, 2 July 2013 | By Rose Powell

A robotic arm maker, colour-matching database and a neurological medical devise start-up are among six start-ups to join the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), hosted by the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering and the Faculty of Business and Economics.


Rohan Workman, manager of MAP, told StartupSmart they had a tough job picking only six companies from 53 applications.


“The reason we chose these teams were these people had the best chance of making their ideas work. The fact these guys were already out there and taking strides forward with their business and getting a bit of traction really worked in their favour,” he says.


These are the companies chosen for the accelerator:


  • The Price Geek, a bargain-seeking search engine;
  • Ebla, an online publishing platform for legal professionals;
  • Client Catalyst, a mobile marketing and inbound client call service;
  • SwatchMate, a colour-matching database service;
  • 2Mar Robotics, a maker of robotic arms for people with quadriplegia; and
  • Cortera Neurotechnologies, an implantable medical device for diagnosing incurable neurological conditions company.


At least one member of the team needs to be studying at the University of Melbourne, recent alumni or staff from the engineering and IT, and business schools to be eligible for the program.


The entrepreneurial fellowships provide office space, funding and mentoring for the start-ups.


Workman says universities are perfectly placed to do more to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He says he expects to see them doing more with their resources.


“We’re only now starting to see how universities can help start-ups, but universities can and will do more and more. It’s not a zero sum game, we’re keen to see more universities running similar programs,” he says.


“We (universities) have a unique set of assets including an alumni network, connections to industry and government, expertise across the campus and a brand. All of this is really helpful for a start-up.”


Workman says the buzz around entrepreneurial activity at Melbourne University is really rewarding.


“Guys who were thinking about entrepreneurship as a career path are now seriously considering it, it’s no longer a pipe dream,” he says, adding Australia still has some cultural challenges to tackle.


“Lots of people are quite risk averse. A lot of people are afraid of the stigma of failure, and that’s Australia wide.


“We need to change that around and turn it around. Everyone who has started a business will know you fail a thousand times before you get it right. This program is about giving these guys the network to learn and accept that.”