Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups launches in Melbourne

500 Startups has expanded into Australia, choosing Melbourne as the location of its national headquarters.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Silicon Valley startup accelerator and venture capital firm 500 Startups has chosen Melbourne as the location of its Australian headquarters after securing a grant from the Victorian government's AU$60 million startup fund LaunchVic.

The Victorian government said that the new location, 500 Melbourne, will support at least 40 startups over the next two years, providing them access to its global network of businesses, mentors, and venture capitalists.

It will also host year-round events to support startups and investors outside of its accelerator program.

In a blog post, 500 Startups said it was an ideal time for the firm to join the nation's innovation ecosystem.

"The Australian ecosystem is at an inflection point, with more venture funding available than ever before and government championing an innovation agenda to legitimize and support startups," 500 Startups' business development lead Justin Ledbetter wrote in the blog post.

Founder of 500 Startups Dave McClure said the firm had already invested in 20 Australian startups.

"Partnering with Melbourne and LaunchVic helps us bring a slice of Silicon Valley to Australia through our startup, investor, and corporate programs. We can't wait to inspire more nerds like us to follow their entrepreneurial drive," McClure said.

According to a statement issued by the Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis, the launch of 500 Melbourne is "a big win for Victoria".

"The move also further strengthens Victoria's growing reputation as the destination of choice for tech and startup investment, following moves by global leaders including Zendesk, Square, Slack, and Cognizant to set up their HQs in Melbourne," Dalidakis' statement read.

While the value of the grant provided to 500 Startups was not disclosed, LaunchVic said it dished out a total of AU$4.9 million to startup-focused initiatives in the second round of its funding program.

Recipients that received less than AU$1 million in the second round include Startmate, Girl Geek Academy, ACMI, Life, Seeva, Frankston Foundry, and Education Changemakers, with 500 Startups among those that received north of AU$1 million.

500 Startups is the second global accelerator program to receive funding from the Victorian government, with Startupbootcamp receiving AU$600,000 in LaunchVic's first round of grants.

It's also not the only US accelerator to make its way onto Australian shores in the last few months. In January, Boulder, Colorado-headquartered accelerator Techstars chose Adelaide as its first launch location in the Asia-Pacific region.

Techstars Adelaide will be a three-month defence and security-focused program with 10 startups receiving up to $120,000 each in exchange for 6 to 9 percent equity. The program is slated to take place from July to September this year.

In December last year, San Francisco-based curated co-working community RocketSpace partnered with Australian real estate group Dexus Property to launch a network of campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to provide startups with desk space as well as access to capital, hands-on workshops, peer group roundtables, networking events, and corporate partnerships.

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