University accelerator sees startups smash $50m milestone

22 November 2018

The University of Queensland has cemented its position as a leading launchpad for entrepreneurs and a magnet for major investors, with startups from its ilab programs attracting more than $57 million.

UQ offers a range of hands-on programs, including its Germinate accelerator, that give budding founders the skills, connections and seed funding to create a startup and to turn early-stage businesses into investment-ready companies.

Located at UQ’s St Lucia campus, ilab plays a key role in UQ’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, having mentored 500 young innovators and 185 founder-based startups including industrial IoT technology developer MOVUS, smart energy innovator Redback Technologies, microbiome specialist Microba, tutoring service Vygo, hearing innovators Audeara and social enterprise Brisbane Tool Library.

Ilab’s achievement builds on the success of UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, which this year celebrated the creation of 100 startups based on UQ intellectual property. These companies have gone on to raise $650 million to take their discoveries to market. 

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said these achievements are testament to the strength of UQ’s entrepreneurial culture and growing global community.

“UQ’s ilab programs focus on finding, supporting and connecting young entrepreneurs and founders to build new startups and augment the world class activities of UniQuest,” Professor Høj said.

“It places our young founders in a unique position to leverage resident entrepreneurs, mentors and startups through to our network of international alumni and partnerships with businesses, universities and tech hubs worldwide.

“We are proud to be the conduit between passionate entrepreneurs and opportunity, and to play a role in launching these great new Australian businesses that are creating global change.

“This shows that Queensland is ready to broaden its economic base by becoming one of Australia’s focal points for the innovation economy, with the creation of a truly world-class incubation precinct, which would provide unprecedented opportunities for work-integrated-learning, graduate employment and researcher-business collaborations,” Professor Høj said.

More than 13 accelerator programs have been completed to date, attracting some of Australia’s most notable investors including Blackbird, Telstra Ventures, Scott Farquar, Right Click Capital, and Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Redback Technologies, which continues to partner with UQ to develop advanced, low-cost solar energy storage, has grown by more than 2500 per cent since it was founded in April 2015 at ilab.

Chief Operating Officer and ilab alumnus Patrick Matweew said UQ’s ilab support was one of the key ingredients to the young company’s success.

“UQ’s ilab team saw the potential of our idea from the very beginning and gave the out-of-town founders the support and infrastructure they needed to focus on growing their business idea,” Mr Matweew said.

“They helped us build an invaluable network and opened many doors for us right from day one.”

Building on these achievements, UQ has announced major enhancements to its Germinate startup accelerator program which is now offering $20,000 to startups accepted into its 2019 program. Applications are now open until 25 November 2018. 

Latest