Early-stage startups face uncertain future.


18th November, 2019

Support for early-stage startups in Australia wanes as Telstra and CSIRO pull out

Accelerators and incubators have been the home of early-stage startups around the world for over a decade. But, in what may be a sign of the times, some of Australia’s major accelerators are calling it a day.

Accelerators and incubators are programs that offer funding, mentorship, direction and extensive networks to their participating startups – acting as a launching pad for those startups as they prepare to take their innovative ideas to market.

Last week, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported a surprise announcement from Telstra confirming that it would be taking its Muru-D accelerator program back to the drawing board, with a view to potentially cancel the program altogether.

The news surfaced shortly after Techboard released its report into the Australian startup and tech investment scene, which highlighted significant signs of maturation in the Australian startup landscape, indicating that Australian investors are displaying a growing interest in scale-up ventures, rather than very early stage ones.

The AFR also highlighted that Telstra was not the first to call it quits on early-stage startups.

Last month, InnovationAus.com reported that the CSIRO also announced that it would not be renewing its in-house “ON” accelerator program and would be winding things up at the end of this financial year.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (AusIndustry) has also left early stage startup founders in the dark about its flagship R&D Tax Incentive program, with many of the uncertainties and issues surrounding the incentive still remaining unresolved.

But the public sector has not shut its door completely on early stage startups, with a number of grant options still available outside the R&D Tax Incentive.

Just yesterday, The Hon Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Innovation announced the release of $2.8 million in grant funding to a number of Australian startups under AusIndustry’s Accelerating Commercialisation grant, a major part of their Entrepreneurs Programme.

Aside from the Accelerating Commercialisation grant, AusIndustry also offer funding for new and existing incubators and accelerator programmes under their Incubator Support initiative, which announced more than $1 million in funding to three different Australian incubator programs earlier in November.