The Government has almost tripled its investment in a new initiative designed to part-fund the set-up of new incubators across Australia.
Launching the initiative at the Stone & Chalk fintech hub in Sydney this week, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt talked up the increased commitment from Canberra.
“The Incubator Support initiative is a new element of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and is one of the measures under the Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda,” Hunt said.
“Originally announced as an $8 million initiative, the Turnbull Government has committed a further $15 million over four years to ensure more innovative businesses, especially those in regional and rural areas, can access the resources and networks needed to grow.”
The increase in support came in part after pressure from the industry to raise the Government’s planned contribution.
Rohan Workman, director of the Melbourne Accelerator Program at the University of Melbourne, lamented back in April that government innovation funding was missing accelerators and incubators, which “take early-stage start-ups and transform them into venture capital-worthy businesses.”
“There's no denying that there's still a significant element of risk to what incubator and accelerator programs do – anyone playing in the start-up ecosystem knows it's a risky space,” Workman said.
“However, if Australia is going to transition to a knowledge economy the bigger risk is to not take these risks.
“To create a vibrant start-up ecosystem with scalable businesses, we need quality of accelerator and incubator programs over quantity.”
With the initiative now better-funded, Workman said his organisation was “delighted” and planned to apply for the grants.
Hunt said that applications are now open for “matching grants between $10,000 and $500,000 for the creation of new incubators in regions or business sectors with strong links to international trade, and for existing, high-performing incubators to expand their services.”
“Incubators can also access matching grants of up to $25,000 to engage experts-in-residence from Australia and overseas,” Hunt said.
“This ensures start-ups have access to the top-quality research, managerial and technical talent they need to develop their capabilities and commercialise their ideas.”
Workman welcomed both avenues of potential funding.
“We were pleased that there is a matched funding component to ensure the ongoing commitment of both government and accelerators to delivering high-quality programs,” he said.
“Entrepreneurs-in-residence are a vital part of the support provided to budding entrepreneurs and it is fantastic to see their value being recognised by the government.
“The additional funds will no doubt enable both Australian and international experts to more actively support early-stage entrepreneurs."