Two weeks after previewing its move to the new $35 million Sydney Startup Hub, fintech coworking community Stone and Chalk has today announced its expansion into Victoria, with a space for 60 desks to open next month in Melbourne.
Backed by corporate partners including Findex, ANZ, and National Australia Bank, the new space will be housed with agtech hub SproutX first up, and led by general manager Alan Tsen, formerly CEO of Fintech Victoria.
Through his work with Fintech Victoria, Tsen said that he has seen the “huge potential out there” and is excited to help further amplify and grow the state’s fintech ecosystem, while tackling problems facing fintech startups including lack of affordable space, and access to mentorship, talent, business programs, and capital.
“As an ecosystem, we’re emerging as a real centre of excellence in a number of fintech verticals, like wealth, blockchain technology, and cyber security, and by launching Stone and Chalk in Melbourne we will help local fintech startups feel part of a bigger fintech movement, connecting them with potential investors, and customers nationally, and globally,” he said.
Co-locating with SproutX will see the two organisations work on a new ‘Agri-Fintech’ program together, looking at how fintech can help address major issues and opportunities in the agricultural sector.
Andrew Lai, director of the SproutX Accelerator, said there is a “huge but often overlooked” link between agriculture and financial services, and “savvy startups are starting to take notice”.
He said, “The partnership between SproutX and Stone and Chalk is a fantastic opportunity for both organisations to leverage their respective areas of competitive advantage to create a world-first initiative specialised in agri-fintech.”
As well as SproutX – which recently revealed its first accelerator cohort – Stone and Chalk has also inked partnerships with RMIT, focused on blockchain research and commercialisation, and female-focused working space One Roof, creating a program to encourage more women into entrepreneurship.
CEO of Stone and Chalk, Alex Scandurra said the Melbourne expansion is an “historic achievement for the Australian fintech industry as a whole”.
“By global standards Australia is a very small market so we need to find more ways to enable collaboration between Australia’s major economic hubs, which are our major cities and regions,” he said.
“Our Melbourne hub will help to further accelerate an already fast-moving industry that’s integral to Australia’s future.”’
An independent, not-for-profit space, Stone and Chalk was launched in March 2015 with assistance from foundation partners including American Express, HSBC, and Intel, who contributed $2 million to establish the hub, along with support from the NSW Government.
Over the last two years Stone and Chalk has amassed 24 corporate partners and become home to almost 90 startups who have raised a combined $182 million in capital and created almost 500 new jobs.
Stone and Chalk had first announced its intentions to open a space in Melbourne early last year, with The Australian reporting the organisation had applied for a grant through LaunchVic to facilitate its expansion.
The organisation was earlier this month announced as an anchor tenant for the Jobs For NSW-backed Sydney Startup Hub. Relocating from its existing Bridge St premises, Stone and Chalk will take up two of the 11 floors in the new development, creating space for up to 600 residents.
Image: Alan Tsen. Source: Supplied.