Newcastle based company Slingshot will be launched by Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation Greg Combet in Newcastle later today.
Slingshot is a high tech accelerator with a $10 million war chest to invest in start up businesses and entrepreneurs.
Aware of the global momentum that is gathering in the digital economy Slingshot is determined to attract the regions best and brightest by investing up to $50,000 cash and an additional $50,000 in services.
There is a real appetite from business and interest groups to grow and develop the Hunter Regions digital capabilities. Slingshot will work within this ecosystem and provide a real and tangible pathway for great ideas to grow into great companies.
“As a local MP, and Minister for Industry and Innovation, I’m proud to see such a proactive initiative occurring here in the Hunter amongst our very own creative entrepreneurs,” Mr Combet said.
“There is a distinct alignment between what Slingshot aims to achieve and the Gillard Government’s vision to drive innovation, create jobs and improve our competitiveness for the future.”
The regions business heavyweights, including Price Waterhouse Coopers, Sparke Helmore, The Newcastle Herald and the Hunter Business Chamber, have backed Slingshot to support innovation in the Hunter. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy recently in the Hunter applauded Slingshot for “fostering innovation and creating jobs for the future”
Newcastle University, Hunter TAFE and Newcastle Innovation are also supporting this initiative as a pathway for graduates and alumni.
Groups such as Newcastle Now, Renew Newcastle, and DIGIT have been in existence for some time encouraging the region to take advantage of the current digital climate as traditional businesses in the region face an uncertain future. Lord Mayor Cr Jeff McCloy says that “Newcastle welcomes smart emerging businesses in digital to revitalise Newcastle’s City Centre.”
Slingshot is raising $10M to invest seed capital in each startup accepted into the accelerator program as well as to participate in follow-on investments with angel investors and VC firms. Slingshot is partnering with early-stage venture capital firm Artesian Capital Management, who launched the $10M Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund in 2011. “Having 10 million dollars available gives us sustainability and allows enough money to be invested in each business to make a difference,” said co-founder Craig Lambert. “But the cash component is only one element, with our partners’ help we will be giving each business the necessary financial, legal, IT and marketing support from world recognised suppliers that is normally out of reach for a business that is still establishing itself.
Slingshot will run a 6-week application process encouraging entrepreneurs to apply with their business ideas. A selection panel will review these, and up to 10 businesses will be given the opportunity to participate in the program. Slingshot plans to run two programs each year.
Co-founder Trent Bagnall says, “for 12 weeks these emerging companies will be housed in Slingshot’s offices, given access to leading business mentors and be run through a rigorous program that will see at its completion companies ready to pitch themselves to venture capitalists for further funding either here or overseas.”
Creating a global pathway for local startups to the US, Asia and emerging markets is definitely part of our offering said Mr Lambert, “there is a growing appetite for Australian ideas and people from international investors and corporations. There is a significant presence of Aussie tech entrepreneurs in overseas markets and Slingshot will assist startups to leverage this global network.”