500 Startups opens Melbourne office, secures $2.3m from LaunchVic

Silicon Valley accelerator and venture capital firm 500 Startups is opening its Melbourne office after securing more than A$2.9 million ($2.3 million) from the Victorian state’s A$60-million fund LaunchVic.

Officially launched on March 18, 500 Melbourne was among seven initiatives to support Australia’s startup sector that completed LaunchVic’s second round of A$4.9 million grants, the innovation support agency said in a statement.

500 Melbourne is a series of programmes that will nurture at least 40 Australian startup companies within the next two years. In addition to acceleration activities, 500 Melbourne headquarters is poised to be a new hub for the local startup ecosystem.

500 Startups said, in an announcement. that its Melbourne-based programme will accept as many as 25 startups from Australia and the APAC region every year. The early stage investor commits to provide the same calibre of mentorship and expertise that Silicon Valley startups receive.

“500 Startups is one of the best accelerator programmes in the world and that’s why we’re bringing them to Victoria. This will open up many opportunities for our local startups and see many others from across Australia and internationally come here to be part of it,” commented Philip Dalidakis, Australia’s Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade.

500 Startups said it will partner with local accelerators, corporates and other startup investors in Australia, as well as to help them connect with investors and experts in the Silicon Valley tech community and around the world.

“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,” the VC firm said.

Before 500 Melbourne, the firm has invested in 20 Australian companies, including graphic design software Canva, mobile inspection platform HappyCo and cybersecurity startup UpGuard.

The Australian startup space is expected to contribute an estimated $109 billion, or 4 per cent of the country’s GDP, LaunchVic said on its website. The Victoria State is home to three unicorns, Realestate.com.au, Seek.com.au and Carsales.com.au.

“The calibre of programmes funded through LaunchVic is a great example of why Victoria is fast becoming the location of choice for startups and tech business investment across the Asia Pacific,” said Dalidakis.

LaunchVic’s first round of support comprises A$6.5 million funneled into 18 projects.

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