As its current intake gears up for Demo Day tomorrow, the University of Sydney’s on-campus accelerator program Incubate, has announced it has received $1 million in funding from the University, to be provided over five years.
Founded in 2012 through the University of Sydney Union (USU), the program has helped over 60 startups across eight cohorts. Accepting two cohorts each year, the program gives each startup $5,000 in seed funding, as well as advice and mentoring from a network of over 100 tech and business leaders.
As well as ongoing support from USU, the program has grown over the years thanks to support from corporates, including Lenovo, Google, and Freelancer.
Now, the fresh funding from the University will see the program double the size of each cohort to accept up to 30 startups per year by 2018, and allow for the development of new outreach and support activities, including programs for community mentoring, legal advice, and product development assistance for teams to refine their ideas.
In addition to the direct financial support, the University will also provide the program with new, expanded coworking space to further aid collaboration.
Professor Tyrone Carlin, deputy vice chancellor (registrar), said the University considers Incubate a “first-rate program” and highlighted its track record in bringing together diverse teams to work on challenging projects.
“Our strategy commits us to ensuring students have the opportunity to undertake hands-on project work, and entrepreneurship is a vital component of this endeavour. Incubate neatly aligns with this strategy and provides an invaluable opportunity for our students to develop their skills and engage with the business and investing community.”
James Alexander, cofounder and program manager of Incubate, said the funding sends a signal to students, researchers, and the broader entrepreneur community.
“We have big plans for the extra funding, and expect to significantly increase our scale and reach across campus over the coming years,” he said.
Among Incubate’s alumni, which have raised over $7 million and are worth a collective $32 million, are the likes of Uprise, an online self-service platform looking to help employees track and guard their mental health; ecommerce conversion optimisation platform Persollo, currently being used by brands including Telstra, Marie Clarie, and modibodi; and keyboard startup Sonder, which has recently been tied to rumours about a deal with Apple.
The startups looking to make a mark at tomorrow’s Demo Day, meanwhile, include ProjectHUNI, which helps students make the jump from high school to university; Health Copilot, a virtual health and wellness coach working through AI; and The Sorting Hat, helping Chinese students looking to study in Australia find the right program or university.
The funding comes as universities around Australia continue to pour money into incubator and accelerator programs. In Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney is investing in a number of programs through its Hatchery arm, while the University of NSW has also developed a range of initiatives through UNSW Innovations and Michael Crouch Innovation Centre.
Image: Incubate’s Mike Nicholls, Lizette Lee, Mellisa Ma, and James Alexander. Source: Supplied.