Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) has partnered with impact investment firm Giant Leap to expand beyond Melbourne University.
MAP was founded in 2012 to assist startups being built by the university’s students, alumni, and staff. The partnership will now see the program accept startups outside the university network if they have a social impact.
Professor Colin McLeod, director of the university’s Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre, said that the accelerator was originally launched to support founders wanting to make a positive change in the world; it appointed a social impact manager in 2015.
“The next step in achieving the goal of making a positive change was to remove any barriers to supporting world-class founders, with social impact at the heart of their startups,” Professor McLeod said.
“We also believe working with social impact experts like Giant Leap will help ensure our programs are best equipped to support the selected founders.”
As part of the partnership, Giant Leap Fund will take part in the selection process for this year’s accelerator intake, provide mentorship, and give participants a chance to pitch for investment.
The program defines a social impact startup as one that “works at the intersection of technology, social impact, and business, where founders are using the power of markets and emerging tech to create value that addresses a societal or environmental problem’s root cause, instead of its symptoms”.
MAP is looking for social impact startups working across three themes: people and place, health and wellbeing, and sustainability and resilience.
Will Richardson, managing partner of Giant Leap Fund, said the firm is “thrilled” to provide advice, support, and advice to the next MAP cohort.
“More and more, we’re seeing a shift towards commercial enterprises that have missions to help create positive social and environmental change as a default starting point for building a new business,” he said.
“Founders are attracting all-star teams to build profitable, scalable and impactful businesses to support our society and the globe.”
Giant Leap launched a jobs board late last year to connect talent looking for meaningful work to roles at its portfolio startups.
Richardson told Startup Daily at the time that more people are starting to realise that for-profit businesses can deliver social impact.
“I think there’s a misunderstanding around the term ‘social enterprise’, and that it’s sometimes confused with philanthropy. Part of our job is to help dispel the myth that if you make money you’re going to do harm to someone, and that if you’re doing good for the world you can’t make money,” he said.
“We just don’t think that’s true. You can do both…if we can get more business to do good, that can be a game changer.”
Applications for this year’s MAP intake are now open.
Image: Will Richardson. Source: Supplied.