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​134 startups aided through Australia's AU$12 million Landing Pad initiative

By the end of 2018, space for 270 startups would have been available.

The Australian government kicked off its startup Landing Pad initiative in early 2016, having initially announced it as part of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda in late 2015.

The Landing Pad initiative has been touted as being designed to help Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and build high-growth and high-return enterprises.

The government had hopes that next Atlassian, 99 Designs, or Hydrus could be launched from one of its "collaborative" workspaces in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin, and Singapore.

The initiative was given an initial AU$11 million, which was upped by another AU$1.2 million in the 2016-17 Budget, due mainly to bringing forward the opening of the Singapore and Berlin Landing Pads, which were stood up in May 2016.

Up until mid-June 2018, the Landing Pad initiative has seen a total of 134 startups through its doors -- 41 in San Francisco, 45 in Tel Aviv, 13 in Shanghai, 13 also in Berlin, and 21 in Singapore.

Across all five locations, Austrade said it can accommodate up to 90 companies per year in the up to 90-day program. Three cohorts are delivered per year in each location.

In San Francisco, up to 10 companies can be accommodated per cohort -- 30 per year; in Shanghai and Singapore, up to six companies in each location per cohort -- totalling 36 per year; and in Berlin and Tel Aviv, up to four companies per cohort in each location -- a maximum of 24 across both facilities.

Revealing the information via responses to Questions on Notice from Senate Estimates in May, Austrade said the number of startups it can assist through the Landing Pads is subject to demand from startups to participate in the program, their suitability to participate in the program, and the capacity at each location to accommodate startups.

Of the total funding amount allocated to the initiative, just over AU$600,000 has been used to pay for support staff, Austrade revealed.

Additionally, in San Francisco, 17 contractors or external parties have been contracted to provide assistance; five in Shanghai; four in Tel Aviv; seven in Berlin; and five in Singapore, with Austrade noting, however, that not all of the external assistance is charged for.

In response to a question from the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade seeking clarification on what exactly the Landing Pads provide to startups in terms of guidance, Austrade said the manager at each location "works closely with selected companies to identify potential customers and assist with introductions where possible".

"134 companies have completed the Landing Pads program, spending up to 90 days in the market. Landing Pad Managers and other Austrade staff have a number of interactions with companies while they are in the Landing Pad, including introductions to a range of stakeholders and potential investors," Austrade continued in its response.

"Extracting data on all of these interactions and filtering by type would require an unreasonable diversion of resources."

The same response was provided when the committee sought to clarify how exactly each of the 134 startups were introduced to local government agencies and support programs.

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