UNSW Founders held its annual 10x Demo Day this week with 25 startups taking part, spanning programs focused on synthetic biology (synbio), climate, health, defence and an all-industries cohort that includes the crowd-lending impact platform LendForGood.
The Climate 10x Accelerator was set up as part of the $280 million Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy (TraCE) collaboration between the federal government, industry, UNSW, and the University of Newcastle.
The federally-funded TRaCE program launched in 2019 to boost R&D and commercialisation with a focus on recycling and clearly energy solutions.
To take it to the next level, the five startups selected for the program received a combined $580,000 in funding, with climate tech VC Virescent Ventures tipping in $480,000 on behalf of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with UNSW investing the balance.
Alongside the funding, the five climate tech startups, which tackle everything from plastic-derived asphalt to decarbonising diesel engines, took part in a 10-week long accelerator program with a focus on customer discovery and go-to market strategies.
Climate 10x program manager Eleni Assargiotis, said on-going post-program support for startups from recruiting top talent to accessing further funding and landing in global markets, is what makes 10x unique
“At UNSW Founders, we work with partners to provide better support for startups,” she said.
“Through our partnership with Virescent ventures, Climate 10x startups not only received access to funding, but more significantly, domain knowledge, commercial perspective and strategic vision of how each company can grow and scale. For the Climate program and UNSW, it’s been important to us that we align on values and emissions reduction targets as well as a focus on hardware and research-led solutions.”
Virescent Ventures partner Blair Pritchard said climate change is both the challenge and opportunity of our generation.
“We need to find, fund, and champion a diverse range of solutions to meet the scale and urgency of the problem. The transition to net zero emissions impacts every part of the economy. As a result, the investment opportunity is huge,” he said.
“For Virescent Ventures, working with UNSW and 10x is an excellent opportunity to access a high calibre of climate and deep tech startups at an early stage pipeline, providing us more deal flow.”
Pritchard said they looked for startups solving big and difficult climate problems.
“Given their early stage, we paid particular attention to the strength of the IP where relevant, and also to the quality of the founders,” he said.
“Diversity was also a key focus in our choices, and we’re pleased to see a high number of female and culturally diverse founders/co-founders. We believe in a diversity of opinions and solutions, and wanted to create a cohort with complementary skills so they could learn from each other.”
The five startups selected were:
SoNiA Green Tech has discovered a novel way to manufacture polymer-modified bitumen to significantly reduce energy usage and incorporate waste plastic
WorkbenchX links companies with manufacturing capability to those without, bringing down the cost of production for startups and manufacturers and enabling sovereign manufacturing.
DeCarice uses specialised hardware to decarbonise existing diesel engines to run on up to 90 percent hydrogen, enabling a 70+ percent reduction in carbon dioxide output
Powour tracks, promotes, and incentivises active transportation activities, reducing environmental impact and improving public health.
Green Dynamics uses AI to automate advanced materials research, speeding up research and production cycles