Victoria’s budget has $186 million for startups, including $10m for angel investment in female founders

Female startup founders in Victoria will have access to $10 million in angel investment under a new fund announced in the state budget today.

Treasurer Tim Pallas allocated $10 million towards the Women Founders Angel Sidecar Fund while hoping it will unlock a further $30 million in private sector equity.

The funds are part of a $186.2 million package backing Victoria’s startup ecosystem in this year’s budget, with $40 million over four years allocated to the state’s startup agency LaunchVic, and $60.5 million for Australia’s first, Fund of Funds, the Victorian Startup Capital Fund, leveraging up to $180 million in private sector investment towards early-stage funding.

The government is ramping up support for women in work and the digital economy in the 2021 Victorian budget with the Treasurer also offering $150 million in wage subsidies for businesses to hire more women.

The Victorian budget has $626 million to upgrade digital infrastructure and skills, with a focus on regional Victoria. That includes $250 million to co-fund business-grade broadband connectivity for Victorian suburbs and regional towns, through the Gigabit State program in conjunction with industry partners. Gigabit State seeks to address gaps in reliable high-speed fibre optic and wireless broadband services for business users, targeting communities that will benefit the most from improvements in technology.

To create more digital tech jobs, $12 million will go to establishing a flagship digital hub in Cremorne. It will be one of Australia’s leading urban technology precincts and create jobs, stimulate innovation and encourage the adoption of new technologies.

Victorians who lost their jobs during the pandemic can retrain through the $64 million Digital Skills and Jobs program, which is funding short courses and up to 5,000 industry internships to help jobseekers – with a strong focus on women – get job ready.

The $10.3 million Victorian Innovation and Digital Jobs program is designed to help SMEs adopt innovative technology.

Specifically on the startup front, the government is also getting into venture debt, a nascent part of Australian startup funding with $25.7 million allocated towards the Venture Growth Fund, which will be run by Invest Victoria for inject late-stage capital into revenue positive startups

On top of that, $50 million will be offered in low-interest loans to innovative businesses including startups that undertake research in Victoria in the R&D Cash Flow Loans initiative

LaunchVic CEO, Dr Kate Cornick said: “Work is now underway to progress a detailed Business and Implementation Plan for the Victorian Startup Capital Fund, Women’s Angel Sidecar Fund and LaunchVic more broadly.”

Victoria is also tipping an extra $210 million into medical research, backing a new Australian Institute for Infectious Disease to prevent future pandemics and rapidly develop treatments at the Parkville medical research precinct. The Government will invest $155 million in the institute, with the project proponents seeking further funding from the Commonwealth Government to build the $550 million facility.

The Budget provides $16.5 million over four years towards developing treatments to address its immediate, medium and long-term health impacts of Covid-19.

A further $195.9 million goes towards establishing Digital Victoria to centralise and simplify the Victorian Government’s IT services.

COVID-19’s impact on the Victorian economy will see the Andrews government spend $49 billion in the next four years with a target of creating 400,000 jobs over the next five years.

Dale Dixon, Head of Product for Small Business at MYOB welcomed the initiatives.

“In particular we’re pleased to see the goal to create 400,000 jobs by 2025, incentives to help businesses cover the wages of 10,000 new workers and investment in new technology to provide digital accessibility for more Victorians,” he said.

“The voucher system to encourage regional tourism will also provide a boost for operators who have been hit hard by COVID travel restrictions this year.”

But the spend will see the government net debt hit $155 billion within three years, around 28% of the state’s GDP. It’s the sixth budget for Treasurer Tim Pallas.

Victoria was hardest hit by the pandemic which resulted in a second major lockdown last several weeks. After nearly 800 deaths and more than 20,000 infections, the state is only now completing its reopening program.

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