Sustainable energy retailer Amber Electric and medtech Seer Medical have been named joint winners of Victorian Startup of the Year in the inaugural Governor of Victoria Startup Awards, announced last night.
The Awards, supported by Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria, celebrate the state’s leaders and investors in the startup sector.
She hosted the winners at an intimate reception at Government House on Wednesday night.
LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick said the awards were created to recognise the people behind the success of the local ecosystem.
“Victoria’s early stage startup sector value has grown by $3 billion in just three years,” she said.
“These are the innovators building the economy of the future with products and services that genuinely make a difference in the lives of Victorians.”
Link-in-bio startup Linktree was recognised as Scaleup of the Year while husband-and-wife angel investing team Aprill and Matt Allen took out the Investor of the Year award in both the People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice categories for Tractor Ventures, their revenue-based fund.
The Regional Ecosystem Hero of the Year was awarded posthumously to Peter Dostis, Co-Founder and CEO of Runway, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to regional and rural startups across Victoria. Peter’s work inspired countless entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and build a successful startup.
Amber Electric co-founder and co-CEO Chris Thompson said his business has the goal of building to million customers, which is enough demand to replace an entire coal-fired power station.
Taking a wry dig at this week’s takeover attempt for Australia’s largest energy retailer by billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, Thompson said: “We may not have $10 billion lying around to go buy AGL to create the change we need, but it’s been an amazing journey so far helping letting everyday Australians start to drive more renewables into the grid and save money in the process.”
The winners of the Governor of Victoria Startup Awards, chosen by an expert panel and a public voting process, were
- Best Newcomer Currus Biologics
- Currus Biologics is a privately held company spun out of research from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The award recognises their ground-breaking work developing the next generation of CAR-T cell therapies to treat solid cancers. Founded only 12 months ago, Currus has already raised $10M Series A funding from the medical Research Commercialisation Fund and Uniseed, and commenced development of their proprietary technology for clinical application.
- Scaleup of the Year Linktree
- Founded in 2016 and the first tool in market of its kind, Linktree helps users to share more, sell more, curate more and grow more. Validating the success of the platform and its astronomical growth over the last five years, Linktree has secured US$55.7M funding to date, closing a US$45M Series B round in March 2021. The company has grown from 12 employees (pre-COVID) to a remote workforce of 170+, with employees based in Australia, the US, and worldwide. Despite more than 90% of its users being based outside of Australia, Linktree is committed to supporting Victoria’s tech ecosystem and nurturing diverse talent from its HQ in Collingwood. They remain invested in creating top tech and product roles right here while driving D&I initiatives that support greater diversity within our ecosystem.
- Startup of the Year Seer Medical and Amber Electric
- Amber Electric are disrupting the energy sector and have a goal of shifting Australia to 100% renewables. In the last twelve months, Amber Electric raised both a Series A (Dec 2020) and a Series B (May 2021), grew their team from around 20 to over 50, automated and controlled hundreds of smart devices to use power at cheaper and greener times, and onboarded thousands of customers.
- Founded in 2017, Seer is Australia’s largest provider of epilepsy diagnostic services, serving more patients than all Australia’s hospitals combined. Its technology has monitored 10,000+ Australians who would have required 50,000+ days in Australian hospitals, diverting ~95-bed years from the Australian hospital system to reduce patient wait times dramatically. With 35% employment growth in 2021, all Seer’s design and manufacturing occur onsite in its Melbourne headquarters, and Seer is taking Victorian expertise to the global stage.
- Ecosystem Hero of the Year (People’s Choice) Aiman Hamdouna, Co-Founder & CEO, Hatch Quarter
- Aiman received the greatest number of votes when a crowd-sourced list of 13 finalists for this category went out to a public vote. From creating a new community for international entrepreneurs to founding an innovation hub, Aiman’s tireless work and thought leadership has bridged Victoria’s startup ecosystem to the world. He is a master connector between communities, governments, startups and investors, and he integrates the value of diversity and inclusion into everything he does.
- Ecosystem Hero of the Year (Expert Panel’s Choice) Jonathan Jeffries, Co-Founder, Think & Grow
- JJ was the expert panel’s pick from the list of finalists. He was nominated by the Victorian startup community for his work stablishing the Re-Trained platform to help connect people displaced during the pandemic. The platform has helped 171 people re-enter the workforce and secure employment in the Victorian startup ecosystem with support from the Victorian government and RMIT Online.
- Investor of the Year (People’s Choice and Expert’s Choice) Aprill and Matt Allen, Co-Founders, Tractor Ventures
- Aprill and Matt Allen have taken out both our expert’s choice and people’s choice categories, receiving the highest number of votes from the Victorian startup community. The nominations highlighted their passion for the ecosystem and how well trusted and highly regarded they are by the community. The nominations recognised their innovative work in providing startup founders with an alternative method of financing that puts founders first. Their work beyond Tractor Ventures in being members on numerous boards, taking part in industry talks and educational sessions and mentoring the community was also recognised.
- Regional Ecosystem Hero of the Year (Posthumous) Peter Dostis, Co-Founder and CEO, Runway
- This year, the Regional Ecosystem Hero of the year is awarded posthumously to Peter Dostis, Co-founder and CEO of Runway Geelong, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Victoria’s regional and rural startup ecosystem. His legacy continues to support regional and rural founders through Runway’s programs, mentorship, collaborations, and networks.