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LaunchVic awards $4.9 million to projects working to make Victoria’s startup sector more diverse and accessible – StartupSmart

SheHacks event

From disrupting the disability sector to increasing entrepreneurial opportunities for women, several innovative projects have received $4.9 million in funding from LaunchVic.

This is the second round of funding to be awarded as part of the Victorian government’s $60 million innovation fund. Seven grant recipients have been revealed with details of larger projects to be announced soon.

On Tuesday morning, minister for small business and innovation Philip Dalidakis was joined by LaunchVic chief executive Dr Kate Cornick and LaunchVic chair Ahmed Fahour at the State Library to reveal the seven grant winners.

The projects in round two were selected for increasing the diversity, accessibility and scaleability of the state’s startup sector, with the largest investment ($500,000) going towards the establishment of a disability and health care innovation hub and incubator.

“These are the programs that will help young companies and ideas develop to create jobs and industries that will support our state for decades to come,” Dalidakis says.

Victoria’s first state-wide hackathon for women

Among the grant recipients is Girl Geek Academy, which received $300,000 to run the first state-wide hackathon for women that will bring together innovative thinkers from the outskirts of Victoria through to Melbourne.

SheHacks bootcamps will run in regional centres including Geelong, Shepparton, Wodonga, Ballarat, the La Trobe Valley, Bendigo, Warrnambool and Warragul, with any woman aged 18 or over able to get involved.

Read more: Why Victorian innovation minister Philip Dalidakis brought his daughters to an all-women hackathon

Girl Geek Academy chief executive Sarah Moran tells StartupSmart LaunchVic’s funding will not only help the academy spark new opportunity for women in entrepreneurship, it will also elongate the support they can provide to get real businesses off the ground.

“Most hackathons are ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ and its over in a weekend,” she says.

In addition to checking in with the teams after the weekend hackathon, Moran says the academy will help them get ready for a SheHacks Demo Day where new startups will showcase their products and reflect on what they’ve learned.

Startups in the arts sector

One of Australia’s first startup co-working spaces to be established by a cultural institution has also received funding in this round, with ACMI X winning $398,000 to launch a creative tech startup lab where four teams will be taken through an intensive two-month program under the leadership of an experienced professional in the creative-tech startup sector.

Read more: Meet the first residents of ACMI’s huge new co-working space

The funding will also enable ACMI X to leverage its international networks and bring in guests from overseas to speak to its co-working community.

“We established a really great physical environment and co-working space for our tenants and we’ve been running a program alongside those tenants for networking activities,” ACMI chief executive Katrina Segwick tells StartupSmart.

“What we haven’t been able to do to date is structure a more focused business development and mentorship program. This is something we quite specifically avoided to date because we just didn’t have the resources.

“The funding will help establish an ongoing business pogrom, not just to residents but the broader community.

“This is the next step of the co-working space.”

LaunchVic chief executive Dr Kate Cornick says LaunchVic will reveal more funded “ground-breaking projects” in coming weeks.

“LaunchVic is supporting new opportunities to boost Victoria’s reputation as a global destination for startups,” she said in a statement.

“We will invest and partner in ideas, expertise and infrastructure to grow Victoria’s thriving startup ecosystem.”

Meet the grant winners:

  1. Seeva Plus ($500,000): To develop an innovation hub and incubator for startups and entrepreneurs driving change in the disability and health sectors;
  2. ACMI ($398,000): To set up a creative tech laboratory at its new co-working space ACMI X;
  3. Startmate ($384,000): For a Victorian-exclusive accelerator program that will support 16 startups over the next two years, and include an annual roadshow to engage tech entrepreneurs across regional Australia;
  4. Girl Geek Academy ($300,000): To host the first state-wide hackathon for women and run bootcamps in Melbourne and regional Victoria where any woman will have the opportunity to join a startup, build a minimum viable product, access mentoring and showcase their efforts at the #SheHacks Victoria Demo Day;
  5. Frankston Foundry ($154,500): To grow a regional innovation hub that will provide a conduit between Melbourne’s startup ecosystem and the state’s southern regions;
  6. Outcome.Life ($94,510): To run a range of collaborative industry programs and internships targeting startups by international students in Victoria; and
  7. Education Changemakers ($87,000): To facilitate education startup clusters through its Edupreneurs program, a three-day event and regional roadshow.

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