Muru-D announces AU$60k seed-funding round for startups

Telstra's Muru-D will provide 10 startups with up to AU$60,000 each, as well as a co-collaboration space, mentoring, and support.

Telstra's startup accelerator Muru-D has announced that applications are open for its Sydney fintech hub, with the telco to provide up to AU$60,000 to 10 startups over a six-month incubation period.

The startups will also be given access to a co-collaboration space, as well as access to support and advice from experienced mentors in the industry.

Muru-D is seeking media industry startups thanks to a partnership with Seven West Media that will see chief digital officer Clive Dickens take a place on the startup advisory board during the program.

Annie Parker, co-founder of Muru-D and chairman of Code Club Australia, said that Seven West Media brings with it the promise to drive innovation in the financial technology industry, as well as long-standing support of Muru-D since its inception.

"One of Muru-D's objectives is to grow and support the startup ecosystem in Australia. This means working with other corporations and organisations to help educate and advise them on the most meaningful way to participate," said Parker.

"We see this partnership as a great outcome; one which could become the blueprint to work with other companies throughout our programs, in Australia and Singapore."

Muru-D has run two startup-accelerator rounds in Sydney and one in Singapore, as well as partnering with fellow accelerators River City Labs in Brisbane and Icehouse in New Zealand.

One of the 10 startups accepted into the upcoming six-month program will also gain mentoring and support from Seven West Media's network of professionals.

"It has been often said that a great idea than can transform an industry can come from anywhere," said Dickens in a statement on Monday morning.

"Seven West Media's investment in and support of Muru-D SYD3 is undoubtedly a hugely positive innovative step forward. Our commitment to Muru-D provides a clear indication of the future development of our company as we expand our presence in content and build new businesses that deliver content and services to our audiences, anywhere and on any device."

Telstra has promoted over 20 startup accelerators over the past year, and invested in 22 startups that deal in such technologies as 5G and mobile data management, according to chief executive Andrew Penn.

"We're investing heavily in startup organisations, and also creating accelerators and incubators, to try and create new environments, new ways, to help innovations flourish, giving them a little bit of capital, giving them the mentoring they need to help them nurture new ideas, and then take those into an environment where they can be capitalised and grow," Penn said at last week's Telstra Vantage conference.

In October 2013, Telstra launched Muru-D for the purposes of incubating and providing seed funding for tech startups in Australia. Muru-D's Parker said that the past few years have seen a trend towards startups for the purpose of creating apps for consumers to becoming a more business-focused area.

"There's a massive shift in the startup space from consumer to enterprise," she said last week.

Enterprise startups, according to Parker, hold greater value because they solve and monetise real-world problems.

Penn pushed continued collaboration with partners, customers, universities, and government, pointing towards the telco's recently opened Gurrowa Innovation Lab. The lab, located inside its head office in Melbourne, provides a co-creation space for Telstra and enterprise customers, vendors, research institutes, and incubators to collaborate on projects via the Pivotal and Cloud Foundry Foundation-provided open-source platform-as-a-service cloud software.

Frank Arrigo, API evangelist at Telstra, argued that while large companies are investing in startups, they're also attempting to integrate a more startup-based approach to their own business models in an effort to get ahead.

"There's also a desire within corporate Australia and enterprise to bring a bit of startup thinking for themselves," Arrigo explained.

"So we're seeing the creation of innovation centres, innovation labs, onsite hack-a-thons; bringing a lot of startup approaches into the enterprise."

Penn also pointed towards combining mobility and cloud in conjunction with advanced computing power in order to drive artificial intelligence and machine learning, saying that these capabilities would accelerate the pace of technological innovation worldwide.

"If you imagine putting that compute power in the hands of virtually every startup around the world, just imagine the level of innovation, the level of change, the level of opportunity that that's going to create," he said.

Applications for Muru-D's SYD3 are open until October 31.