Victorian government gives startups a AU$60m boost

Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation, and Trade, Philip Dalidakis has announced a AU$60 million initiative aimed at giving budding entrepreneurs a push in the right direction.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Victorian government has announced a AU$60 million startup fund, which the Minister for Small Business, Innovation, and Trade Philip Dalidakis said is aimed at giving entrepreneurs in the state every opportunity for success.

Speaking to ZDNet ahead of the announcement on Friday, Dalidakis said the initiative is about supporting the whole ecosystem, be it accelerators, incubators, or collocation startups.

"We want to make sure that the startups in Victoria have the best opportunity for success," he said.

"We already have some amazing incubators and accelerators right now, but what we want to do is we want to grow; we want to grow the sector and so by providing that funding to assist in that way, we think we can grow the whole system."

According to Dalidakis, governments need to change their thinking.

"We need to be like a startup ourselves and if we do that, and if we get these settings right, then we're supporting businesses trying to do what they do best, which is grow themselves," the minister said.

"We're going to be aggressive; we're pursuing every opportunity as if it's our last because we know that to support these businesses we need to be sharp, we need to be nimble, we need to be agile."

Talking about the back and forth in federal politics, Dalidakis said a government also needs to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.

"It doesn't matter how many times that Wyatt Roy and others want to go and do some kind of event and say here we are -- we're actually putting money where our mouth is, we're actually supporting the industry, we're actually giving money to the startups themselves to make sure they're successful," he said.

"Unfortunately, the one thing that we can't do, that I want to do, and it's going to take everybody to be a part of this, is change the culture. In Australia, Victoria, Melbourne, we need to start celebrating success and not be fearful of failure because it's only natural for a business that succeeds to have that experience of falling at a hurdle on the way through."

Dalidakis said it is important to embrace businesses that are having a crack, adding he wants to see them "have a go".

Dalidakis said by the end of November, full details of the state government's initiative will be revealed. He said he is hopeful that entrepreneurs will be able to start dipping into the AU$60 million funding pool by January next year.

Despite the initiative taking almost a year to get off the ground, Dalidakis said the government wanted to "get it right", by making sure the policy settings were right for the people that are going to be accessing it.

"It sounds corny, but everyone will be a winner out of this," he said.

In addition to the AU$60 million startup initiative, Dalidakis said the city of Melbourne will be hosting its own startup conference next year; SydStart will be rebranded to radiate a more APAC inclusive moniker, and will be known as StartCon moving forward.

Following a AU$1 million injection from the Victorian government, Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, the company behind SydStart, said the move to Melbourne will position Victoria's capital as the new hub for the Aussie startup scene.

"We are very appreciative of the support shown by the Victorian government and we can't wait for StartCon's debut in 2016 -- not only will it be the biggest startup conference in the country but across the whole Asia-Pacific region," Barrie said.

"We have seen a lot of success with companies coming out of Victoria, and Melbourne is definitely primed to be the new hotbed for the startup and tech scene."

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