Melbourne-based startups are being given the chance to share in AU$80 million in financial support and connect their ideas with the world, after the opening of a new incubation space in the CBD.
The City of Melbourne has partnered with the Jiangsu-Suzhou Science and Technology Town, RMIT University, the University of Melbourne, Victorian Government and Australia China Association of Scientists and Entrepreneurs (ACASE) to open the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre at 51 Queen Street.
The Innovation Centre, run by ACASE, will provide Melbourne-based startups with access to coaching, market information and entrepreneurial guidance, linking their ideas with universities, research institutes and the Chinese-based Suzhou accelerator space to expand their reach into Asia.
Suzhou High-Tech Venture Capital Group is providing up to AU$80 million in financial support to run the centre, facilitate access to angel investment and fund project development over three years.
Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood says the centre is the first of its kind in Melbourne and will feed into the booming startup sector.
“This Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre will nurture the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to go on to great things,” Wood says.
“The incubation space will provide expert business development guidance and the potential to export ideas to the world.
“Melbourne is now home to 170 co-working spaces, which is one measure of a healthy startup community. The recent launch of our Startup Action Plan shows we’re serious about playing our role.
“Add to this the Jiangsu-Victoria Innovation Centre and it makes for exciting times for new and innovative businesses and business models.”
Councillor Kevin Louey, City of Melbourne’s Prosperous City portfolio chair says Council’s vital contacts in China helped get the Innovation Centre off the ground.
“For many years the City of Melbourne has worked tirelessly to help connect our businesses to the largest economy in the world,” Louey says.
“This Innovation Centre is the culmination of many months of work between the Suzhou-Jiangsu governments, the City of Melbourne, ACASE, and two of Australia’s biggest universities in RMIT and University of Melbourne.”
The first cohort of startups to occupy the space will be selected from the ACASE Sunan Cup competition winners earlier this year.
The startups range from “intelligent clothing” to smart electronic stethoscopes, smart alarms and third-party brain MRI imaging.
Victorian innovation minister Philip Dalidakis says the announcement was another positive step for Victoria as the state continues to develop as Australia’s technology hub.
“We’re already seeing plenty of brilliant startups emerge in our state and I have no doubt that this centre will help more startups turn bright ideas into thriving businesses.”
By Lew Kai Ping