LaunchVic is set to invest $2.5 million in CivVic Labs, an accelerator program aimed at helping participants access a slice of the government procurement pie.
The program was born out of issues brought up at a stakeholder engagement forum: while the government is procuring a significant amount of goods and services from the private sector, it is difficult for startups to access these opportunities.
The first program, set to run over this financial year, will ask government departments taking part in the program to define a public sector challenge that would benefit from a startup’s technology and thinking.
They will then work with startups to co-design and test solutions in a “de-risked sandbox environment”, with the program looking to offer a path to procurement.
The program will accept 16 startups in its first cohort, with participating startups to be co-located with government staffers.
Dr Kate Cornick, CEO of LaunchVic, said the accelerator will “open up a new world of opportunities” for startups.
“Lack of access to government procurement for startups is a common problem we hear from Victorian startups and something LaunchVic has been seeking to address,” she said.
Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, Philip Dalidakis added, “Startups are growing in Victoria and this initiative will help them create more jobs as well as offering government alternative options and different ways of doing things.”
LaunchVic will lead the program, which will receive additional funding from the Public Sector Innovation Fund, which provides grants of between $50,000 to $400,000.
Following its first run, the program is planned to run twice over two years, until 2020.
LaunchVic earlier this month announced $1.37 million in funding for four organisations focused on supporting entrepreneurial activity among Indigenous Victorians: Barayamal, Global Sisters, Ngarrimili, and Ngamai Moorroop Wili.
With LaunchVic research finding Indigenous Australians represent two percent of the state’s startup founders, the funding is part of the Victorian government’s wider Tharamba Bugheen strategy, a package focused on improving the accessibility of business support for Indigenous Australians, improving the visibility and networks of Aboriginal businesses, and strengthening the entrepreneurial culture and business experience of Indigenous Australians.
Also looking to open procurement opportunities to startups, the NSW Government had in late 2016 announced it was increasing its innovation procurement threshold from $250,000 to $1 million.
This allows state government agencies to engage suppliers through direct negotiation on short term contracts valued up to $1 million, including GST, for proof of concept or outcomes-based trials. A competitive tender process takes place once a trial is complete.
Image: Dr Kate Cornick. Source: Supplied.