RIVER CITY LABS Accelerator, in partnership with Telstra-backed muru-D, has opened applications for its next cohort of business founders seeking to scale fast – and internationally.

The Brisbane-based River City Labs Accelerator (RCL Accelerator) is a comprehensive quality program uniquely designed for startups who are ready to scale their businesses fast. The program provides each startup with $60,000 seed capital along with six months membership at RCL, business development support and introductions to global mentors, customers and investors. 

After three successful cohorts and 20 startups backed to date, RCL Accelerator is ready to welcome the next batch of startups to the latest program, labelled BNE.

BNE3 saw 145 startups from eight countries apply. After an intense interview and two-day bootcamp process, only 10 teams were selected for the program. For the BNE4 cohort, the accelerator is shifting focus from early-stage startups to later-stage and pre-series A scaleups.

The new head of RCL Accelerator and serial entrepreneur, Cristo Pajust, said the program was seeking founders who have a strong work ethic and the ambition to grow fast, “and those who don’t take ‘no’ easily”.

He said the program assists founders to connect to global markets that are valuable to their startups.

“We help teams tackle the hurdles, initiate a long-term relationship with suitable corporate partners and relevant investors in Australia and worldwide,” Mr Pajust said. “It’s suited to entrepreneurs who are ready to take their company seriously and want to grow in a fast paced environment.

“This is the program for the ones who have already achieved something good and want to become exceptionally great quicker than anybody else,” he said.

The program focusses on its local hands-on support from world-class serial entrepreneurs. RCL Accelerator concentrates on immediately matching startups with the right financing partner-investor, and directly connecting them to relevant corporations, venture funds and foreign sales markets.

“Instead of theory, we concentrate on execution and hands-on expansion help with local support from experienced entrepreneurs who've done it in target markets before,” Mr Pajust said. “The difference compared to any other local programs comes from actionable -- not theoretical – support from serial entrepreneurs.”

Head of muru-D, Julie Trell said the RCL Accelerator program was going from strength to strength.

“It’s been great to see the growth of the RCL Accelerator year on year as they continue to attract great founders to the program,” Ms Trell said. “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm and support from the Brisbane startup ecosystem and I look forward to finding out who will be joining the fourth cohort.”

The River City Labs Accelerator applications close on April 30. Startups in the current cohort, BNE3, will hold their end-of-program demo day alongside RiverPitch in a brand new event titled Startup Invest.

The event will be held during Myriad Festival, Brisbane’s biggest annual startup festival, on May 17.




TEN  startup businesses will pitch their concepts and plans to potential investors at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney on February 21.

The event is part of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney’s inaugural Founders 10x Accelerator program.

Pitches include a motorcycle helmet that improves a rider’s reaction time, an asteroid-prospecting company searching for viable mineral reserves in space, and a domestic nanny service to give busy parents back their ‘me-time’.

Teams from the Founders 10x Accelerator program’s first cohort of entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to potential investors as part of the launch of the Founders Program, the flagship initiative of the UNSW Entrepreneurship team, at the MCA.  

The Accelerator program identified 10 high-impact UNSW student or alumni startups to participate in an intensive 10-week program, offering world-class mentoring and networking opportunities, business development services and financial support.

The program includes masterclasses hosted by Silicon Valley-based startups, access to UNSW’s network of founders, alumni and mentors, and $20,000 in seed-funding.

The program is part of a suite of new initiatives launched through the Founders Program, which includes aspects such as Founders Global, helping student entrepreneurs understand and access the rapidly growing global innovation and venture capital ecosystems, and New Wave Founders, addressing the gender gap in entrepreneurship through support programs for women in the startup space.

UNSW’s director of entrepreneurship, Elizabeth Eastland, said its unique model for entrepreneurial confidence sets the Founders Program apart. Dr Eastland said through its ‘Founders First’ ethos, the program offered founders a different perspective on what success and excellence looks like; a mindset driven by a desire to succeed, a commitment to sustainability and a focus on giving back.

The startups pitching for investor funds at Wednesday’s launch offer innovative solutions to a diverse range of problems. Heba Shaheed, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind the Pelvic Expert, has made it her mission to give women’s health a voice through the e-learning site. 

The Pelvic Expert combines holistic and research-based women’s health solutions to help with pregnancy, birth recovery, chronic pain and related issues.

“There is little accurate, reliable and accessible information on women’s health and pelvic issues,” Heba, the mother of a 10-month-old, said. “We offer e-health on a gamified platform that you can access anywhere in the world.”

Other startups pitching for investor funds include a digital credit card addressing online fraud, a portal to virtual internships to advance careers, and a cloud-based engineering software company allowing users to model, analyse and design structures through simulation.

Dr Eastland said, “The Founders Program amplifies UNSW Sydney’s outstanding reputation for fostering entrepreneurial talent. This ambitious initiative aims to make entrepreneurial confidence a part of every UNSW student’s experience, equipping them with the skills and resilience they need to thrive in the 21st century marketplace.”




This emphasis on resilience has personal significance for Malaysian-Australian businessman, Maha Sinnathamby, who has donated $5 million to UNSW, half of which will be used to fund the Accelerator program.

Mr Sinnathamby is the entrepreneur behind the Greater Springfield city building project in Queensland – Australia’s largest master planned community and the 10th largest globally. He credits his success and sizeable personal fortune to simple hard work, and not ever giving up in the face of adversity – something he is no stranger to.

At five, he watched as his father, a British informant, was taken as a prisoner of war during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia (known as Malaya at the time). His father was one of only two survivors of 142 imprisoned.  

With persistence and a good education, Mr Sinnathamby believes it is possible to overcome any challenge. It was this mindset that helped him to overcome his impoverished childhood on a small farming village outside Kuala Lumpur with no electricity, little running water and a kerosene lamp to study under at night.

As a young man, Mr Sinnathamby moved to Australia to study civil engineering. Though he struggled to support himself, he succeeded against the odds.  A variety of small business ventures and driving a cab at night kept him going and taught him that “anything is possible in Australia if you want it badly enough”. 

According to Mr Sinnathamby, failures in life are as important as successes.

“You have to have a deaf ear to negativity and just keep going,” Mr Sinnathamby said, “and a strong sense of self-belief.” 

The second cohort of the Founder10x Accelerator will begin in mid-2018. To date, 400 startups and 600 founders have been supported by UNSW’s existing entrepreneurship programs and more than 25,000 people have participated in events and workshops at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre.

More than 100 startups per year graduate from UNSW’s coordinated programs.



THE Boeing-developed autonomous ocean vehicle, Wave Glider, is now helping the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) test how a high‐tech autonomous ocean vehicle could improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef and coastal waters.

A recent seven‐day trial saw the vehicle cover 200 nautical miles of the central Great Barrier Reef, in what is the first major milestone of a five‐year joint research agreement between AIMS and Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.

Wave Glider, developed by Boeing subsidiary Liquid Robotics, was deployed at the Great Barrier Reef to help assess the health of the coral reefs and ecosystems. Powered by waves and sun, the vehicle provided continuous, real‐time environmental ocean data using a suite of on‐board sensors and software.

As Wave Glider travels along the ocean’s surface, its measurements can include weather, wave heights, water salinity and pH levels, chlorophyll and more. 

AIMS head of data and technology innovation  Lyndon Llewellyn said researchers were still analysing data captured by the autonomous vehicle.

“We are impressed with the number of different measurements it could conduct at the same time and its ability to transmit the data back to our base immediately and reliably while navigating and performing its mission,” Dr Llewellyn said.

Dr Llewellyn said the technology allowed science to measure atmosphere and water over long periods of time because the vehicle could operate at sea for several months at a time while following a programmed course or being piloted remotely.

“It was quite extraordinary how the Wave Glider remained on its planned mission,” Dr Llewellyn said. “It went where it was told to and it stayed the course like an orienteering champion.

“The Wave Glider technology will be an important tool to advance our mission to better monitor the Great Barrier Reef.”

Because of its autonomous nature, Wave Glider frees up human resources to focus on science and not the logistics of collecting data. 

Boeing Autonomous Systems vice president and general manager Chris Raymond said, “Boeing and our Liquid Robotics team are proud to support AIMS in its mission to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The demonstration proves how autonomous systems like our Wave Glider can improve upon human‐based environmental data collection methods while also being safe and affordable," Mr Raymond said.




A MEDICAL DRINK to manage dementia and a website security program to protect against automated attacks are among 24 innovative Australian businesses to receive a $11.2 million kick start to commercialise products for Australian and international markets.

The funding, provided under the Federal Government Entrepreneurs’ Programme’s Accelerating Commercialisation element, will support the businesses to conduct commercialisation activities, proving the viability of their products, processes or services and preparing them for market.

Accelerating Commercialisation director Larry Lopez said the 24 businesses were among 234 Australian businesses to have benefited from more than $117 million in Entrepreneurs’ Programme funding to date.

“The Entrepreneurs’ Programme, through the Accelerating Commercialisation element, supports entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses to find the right commercialisation solutions for their novel product, process or service as they work towards achieving success in the global marketplace,” Mr Lopez said.

The latest funded projects include an innovative web security application, welding-free pipe fitting technology for the oil and gas industries, a medical food product to manage early Alzheimer’s dementia, and an intelligent train control system for heavy haul railways.

“The awarded businesses are based in both regional and metropolitan locations around Australia, showing that innovation is not just confined to the big cities,” Mr Lopez said. 

“This is about helping businesses take smart ideas from the drawing board to products and services for Australian and international markets and creating new job opportunities for Australians.

“The programme’s experienced Commercialisation Advisers will help the recipients to navigate this often challenging stage of product development.”

Businesses are required to dollar match the grant funding.

The 24 projects offered support include:

Software enabling blind and vision impaired people to interact with websites and access web-based business and government services.

Pipe fitting technology that does not require welding or swaging, reducing down time for businesses in the oil and gas, marine, food and agriculture industries.

An effervescent medical food drink for medically supervised use to manage early memory loss and Alzheimer’s dementia.

A 3D cell tower visualisation and analysis service for the wireless telecommunications industry that reduces costs, improves safety and maximises tower use.

A cloud-enabled, wirelessly charged customer location system for the hospitality sector that saves businesses time and money and improves customer experience.

Intelligent, adaptive software for controlling extra-long heavy haul trains that optimises train performance, improves safety and minimises costs.

A website security program that protects against automated attacks and offers greater cost effectiveness, higher security, and simpler implementation for businesses.

An organic waste management solution that produces cost-competitive biological fertiliser for agricultural markets.

Sustainable aquaculture techniques that allow fish farming with a smaller footprint and better filtration.



Medtech industry precinct at Monash

A NEW medical technology precinct – known as M2 – was launched at Monash University in Melbourne in August.

M2 is a joint project between CSIRO, Monash University and Monash Health Translation Precinct. M2 also includes CSIRO’s new Biomedical Materials Translation Facility (BMTF).

Australian medical technology has led the world in many aspects, improving lives worldwide. Australian science created the electronic pacemaker, the bionic ear and extended wear contact lenses. Australian researchers are currently viewed as pioneers in the world of 3D-printed medical implants. 

“This new, world-class facility sees CSIRO and Monash biomedical researchers working together to commercialise new medical technologies and pharmaceuticals for industry,” Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos said.

“We have an extensive track record, and it’s one we want to continue. The M2 facility brings together expertise, experience and equipment needed to turn excellent science into a clinically-tested product, all within the city of Monash.”

At the official opening, Mr Sinodinos said collaborations like M2 would help to ensure the next generation of medical devices were not only created in Australia, “but developed and built here ensuring a globally competitive medtech industry”.

He saide through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government was investing heavily in medical technology with the $20 billion Medical Research Future fund providing long-term financial backing to foster closer collaboration between the research sector and industry, and the $500 billion Biomedical Translation Fund helping commercialise biomedical research in Australia.

“M2’s work will also complement work being done by the Government’s Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre (MTP Connect) to help establish Australia as an Asia Pacific hub for medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies,” Mr Sinodinos said.

“But beyond the economic growth and employment, the sector has another very important benefit – a healthier and happier Australia.”

M2 is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.


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