Australia Post has announced an equity fund targeting emerging e-commerce start-ups that it will invest an initial $20 million into.

Group CEO and managing director Ahmed Fahour said the company wanted to “support small business and to accelerate e-commerce innovation across Australia.”

“We will work with our people, our customers, the community and our partners to identify new opportunities and emerging, disruptive e-commerce businesses that we can accelerate," Fahour said.

"We will use the $20 million capital fund, which with the success I expect could grow to more than $100 million over coming years, to directly invest in great e-commerce businesses with ideas that will improve the lives of our customers.”

At the same time, Australia Post will invest in an undisclosed number of accelerators, beginning with a three-year, $1 million deal with the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).

The investment in MAP will buy two places for e-commerce business in the start-up accelerator program, an annual scholarship, and outreach programs “targeting regional and rural areas, women and social entrepreneurs”.

"We believe universities don't just educate our future generations; they are a production line of ideas for new entrepreneurs and new businesses,” University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said

Harnessing the current mood around Australia's innovation agenda is important, and this investment will go a long way to ensuring that start-up cultures like those at MAP continue to have a prominent role at the University.”

Australia Post’s move comes in the same week as CSIRO appointed Liza Noonan to lead a program called ON, which focuses “on building connections with the Australian entrepreneurial community to accelerate CSIRO’s entrepreneurial capacity to create impact for Australia.”

Noonan comes from Springboard Enterprises Australia – an accelerator program for female entrepreneurs, and also previously ran Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect program in Australia.

“The ON program will be key to delivering more breakthrough innovation from CSIRO,” Noonan said.

“One of the first initiatives of ON is a new Accelerator for CSIRO concepts with high impact potential.”

The accelerator program started in July this year. CSIRO staff submitted 240 ideas, and nine teams were created to work on the chosen ones.

“This program is different to other accelerators out there,” Noonan said.

“These are deep tech projects that cross a wide range of industries, from manufacturing to agriculture.

“Our end goal is to get technology out to market that will address major challenges we face as a nation.”

The first ON accelerator is due to finish in December this year, with a second round opening in early 2016.