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Seek, Hudson back Slingshot's HR startup accelerator

Seek, Hudson, Slingshot, and UTS will be working together to execute a HR focused startup accelerator program called Human Capital.

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Andrew Bassat, CEO of Seek

Image: Kit Haselden

Seek and Hudson are joining Slingshot to launch a human resources-focused program called Human Capital.

Set to begin in March, the 12-week accelerator program is expected to help "corporate leaders reinvent the human capital elements of their businesses" by connecting them with up to 12 HR startups and scale-ups.

Participating companies will receive a small cash injection of up to AU$50,000 in exchange for 10 percent equity, a larger stake than some other Australian accelerators such as Startmate, which provides AU$75,000 for 7.5 percent equity, and Telstra-backed Muru-D, which provides up to AU$60,000 in increments for 2 to 6 percent equity.

Like other accelerator programs, Human Capital's participants will also receive mentorship, dedicated working space, and access to sponsorship partners' business networks.

Mark Steyn, Hudson's Asia Pacific CEO, identified "the significant potential of talent analytics to boost business performance", adding that the recruitment firm is keen to partner with companies that are "passionate about improving the future of work".

Meanwhile, Andrew Bassat, CEO of Seek, said the company itself was once a startup "born out of disruption" and has grown to become a AU$5 billion company. The employment marketplace invested AU$200,000 into the accelerator program.

"Through this program, Seek will look to share its experience, and hopefully find opportunities to help 'scale up' new businesses via our relationships with over 700,000 hirers and 150 million candidates," Bassat said.

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) will be a "supporting partner" of Human Capital, bringing its talent and academic networks to the program.

According to Slingshot, companies that have partaken in its accelerator programs have a combined market capitalisation of more than AU$42 million and over 80 percent of the companies are still active or have been acquired.

Slingshot has previously worked with partners such as NRMA, HCF, ING Direct, Beyond Bank, PwC, the University of Newcastle, and the NSW Department of Industry.

Meanwhile, SproutX, a joint initiative of financial advisory firm Findex and the National Farmers' Federation, recently completed an agtech pre-accelerator program designed to help startups and entrepreneurs refine their ideas in food, fibre, and agriculture.

SproutX has opened its pre-accelerator course content to the public under an open source license.

An accelerator program will also take place this year where participating startups will receive up to $50,000 in funding from the Victorian government, Findex, the National Farmers Federation, and Artesian Ventures.

In addition, SproutX announced the launch of an agtech coworking space in Melbourne CBD. The space is free of charge for agtech startups that are accepted.

"Australians have a unique cultural and historical passion for agriculture," said Michael Dean, co-founder of agricultural crowd equity platform Agfunder, who joined SproutX's board. "Our farmers are among the best in the world, yet the industry isn't getting the support and funding that it needs to drive technology innovation to boost farm efficiency and productivity."

"On a per capita basis, Australia spends 32 times less than the USA on agricultural venture capital. SproutX is the initiative Australia needs to address this imbalance and drive our nation's next innovation boom".

In December 2016, Australian real estate group Dexus Property and San Francisco-headquartered curated coworking community RocketSpace announced that they would launch a network of campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane specifically for post-revenue technology startups. Like Slingshot, RocketSpace also connects corporates with startups. Its consulting division advises corporates on how they can work with startups.

"Typically, the corporates have great scale and reach and the startups are great at innovation. If you put that together in the right way, it should be a highly symbiotic relationship," RocketSpace founder and CEO Duncan Logan told ZDNet in December. "The corporates get cutting-edge innovation to help them stay relevant and the startups get scale and reach in a marketplace that otherwise can be hard to scale in or is expensive to scale in."

In January, Boulder, Colorado-headquartered startup accelerator Techstars announced that it would be launching a program in Adelaide, South Australia. Similar to its accelerators in the US and UK, Techstars Adelaide will be a three-month mentorship-driven program with 10 participating startups receiving up to $120,000 each in exchange for 6 to 9 percent equity, which can be bought back by the startups should they want to by returning the investment.

The focus of the Techstars Adelaide program, which will take place from July to September, will be on technologies that could be applied in defence.