​Victorian government to launch fintech hub

The state government has unveiled plans for a fintech hub in Melbourne's inner-west, aiming to 'turbocharge' its startup ecosystem and attract new investment.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Victorian government has announced plans to establish a fintech hub in Melbourne's inner-west, aiming to attract investment and position itself as the fintech capital of the country.

In a statement, Victoria's Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis said the hub will strengthen the local fintech sector by bringing startups together with investors, industry corporates, and researchers in one concentrated and "collaborative" workspace.

The state government has released a request for proposal to establish the fintech hub at the Goods Shed North in Docklands, however Dalidakis already has big plans for the hub, which includes the introduction of targeted mentoring services to help resident startups develop new business skills, connect with customers, and bring new products and services to market.

Dalidakis expects the hub will also build stronger links with international fintech companies.

The Goods Shed is also home to Data61's Cyber Security and Innovation Hub. Opened in October, the cyber hub houses PhD students, cyber arms of other organisations, and includes the presence of eight universities and private sector partners.

The hub will also house several other organisations including a collaboration with Oxford University's Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) and Victoria's new Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC).

It was announced in late 2015 that Melbourne would be receiving the first international office of Oxford University's GCSCC, which will carry out audits of national cybersecurity risks and capabilities to help countries to plan investments and strategies to improve their digital security.

At the time, Dalidakis said establishing an office in Victoria cemented the state's reputation as a hub for cybersecurity, with the National Broadband Network's (NBN) announcing it too was bringing its National Operations Centre to Melbourne.

The Victorian government has focused of late on ushering tech talent into Melbourne, with the state's LaunchVic program handing out AU$6.5 million to universities, startups, incubators, and projects to "drive new ideas" and create jobs in the state last August.

Silicon Valley startup accelerator and venture capital firm 500 Startups announced in March it would be setting up shop in Melbourne after securing a grant from the LaunchVic startup fund.

At the time, the 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.

LaunchVic was established in November and will be given AU$60 million over four years to invest in core infrastructure, improve access to capital for local startups, advocate on Commonwealth legislation and regulation, as well as engage in startup events, campaigns, competitions, and mentoring programs.

The LaunchVic funding comes from the AU$508 million Premier's Jobs and Investment Fund.

"We want Victoria to be the location of choice for startups across the Asia-Pacific region and LaunchVic is making it happen. These projects will help young companies and ideas develop to create jobs and industries that will support Victoria for decades to come," Dalidakis said previously.

"Victoria is leading the country in startup and small business growth, with around 8,000 new businesses created in the last year alone, and we need to ensure the right support is in place to help them thrive."

Also on Thursday, Fintech Australia, a not-for-profit body focused on fintech development in the country, announced Melbourne would be getting its first fintech-focused festival, Intersekt, sponsored by the Victorian government.

Previously, Fintech Australia called for more co-working spaces dedicated to finance technology, with a report [PDF] sponsored by EY highlighting the economic benefit in providing a space for "collaboration".

"The environment has to foster and enhance collaboration and create opportunities for a 'collision of ideas'. Hubs, accelerators, and meetups are all part of supporting this vibrant environment," EY Global & UK Fintech Leader Imran Gulamhuseinwala said in the EY FinTech Australia Census 2016.

On Wednesday, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission signed an agreement with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission to provide mutual support to fintech businesses from Australia and Hong Kong seeking to operate in each other's markets.

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