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Canberra accelerator program launched by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher

Today, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher launched the GRIFFIN Accelerator at the ANU Connect Ventures Innovation Showcase. The focus of the accelerator program is ‘Servicing Government’, and so applicants with solutions in the Government Software, Government Services, Defence, Education and Health space are welcome to apply.

Nick McNaughton, spokesperson for the accelerator, said the GRIFFIN Accelerator is another building block in the early-stage innovation ecosystem in Canberra. In May last year, they launched Entry 29, a coworking space which attracted 125 paying members to date. 

“The success of Entry 29 demonstrated the demand for an accelerator program and we are pleased to now be open for business,” McNaughton said in the media release. 

The accelerator program is being run in collaboration with Ignition Labs, an accelerator program in ATP Innovations Sydney. Hamish Hawthorn, CEO of ATP Innovations said, “We have extensive experience in running accelerator programs in technology, health and energy sectors.”

“Leveraging our capability and expertise to launch other regional programs is of significant interest to us. Partnering with the impressive innovation community of the ACT to launch this in Canberra demonstrates the collaborative spirit that will make this program a success”.

The program has been named the GRIFFIN Accelerator to celebrate the contribution of the city’s founding father Walter Burley Griffin. Applications open today and close at the end of May. After the evaluation process is undertaken, 10 program participants will be selected into the accelerator.

They are strictly looking for “quality not quantity”, and won’t budge from that. If there aren’t as many quality applicants, less than 10 will be chosen.

“The program’s focus is unique to Australia and leverages the city’s strengths. We are so much more than a politics, public service and tax town. We have a huge customer on our door step (the Federal Government) and we have significant research and domain expertise in the themes selected for this year’s program,” said McNaughton.

In late 2013 the ACT Government announced the ‘Invest Canberra’ initiative and identified the themes that the City is good at; and so the GRIFFIN Accelerator will be focusing on these themes.

“Our objective is to create industry building capability outside of our current pillars of industry and generate new industries for the decades to come”, said McNaughton.

During the launch, Chief Minister Gallagher announced a $70,000 grant to assist with the running of the program.

“The GRIFFIN Accelerator is a program that delivers on the objectives of the ‘Invest Canberra’ initiative bringing smart people and investment dollars into our city,” the Minister said.

“All of the research institutions involved in this program contributes expertise, people and resources to the program participants. In addition we have some of the largest customers for these products in services right here in Canberra.”

The program has support from a wide variety of organisations including: ANU Connect Ventures, ATP Innovations, The Australian National University, Australian Capital Ventures Limited, Capital Angels, CollabIT, CSIRO, eGov Cluster, Entry 29, Lighthouse, NICTA and the University of Canberra.

Currently, $300,000 has been raised for the GRIFFIN Accelerator from local investors who will mentor the participants during the 12-week program. Stage one of the program runs from 1st July – 30th September 2014 and will be based at the NICTA Research Labs in the heart of the City.

Phil Robertson, Chief Operating Office of NICTA said, “We are excited to be providing the space for this first group of startups. NICTA is all about bringing research and industry together and growing businesses, like we have done with our Canberra-led eGovernment Cluster.”

“These lucky startups will be surrounded by the large intellectual pool of NICTA researchers and PhD students to help them solve curly issues on the spot’. Participants who get through to stage two will continue in an additional period from October to December.

Each successful stage one participant will receive $25k for 10% equity. If they are successful and make it through to stage two they will be offered an additional $25k for 5% equity. A demo day will be held at the end of September where a range of investors will have the opportunity to see the participant’s pitches.

For more information, visit www.griffinaccelerator.com.au.