Business Incubators

River City Labs supports Entrepreneurs' Organization Brisbane Accelerator

BRISBANE tech startup hub River City Labs will support the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter as a sponsor of the Accelerator Program in 2019.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said, “River City Labs has been in the business of supporting founders and startups since 2012 through our Accelerator programs and events. It seems only natural for both organisations to work together in supporting Brisbane’s Entrepreneurs journey. 

“I look forward to sharing River City Labs’ facilities and network with the Entrepreneur’s Organisation in providing support to its Accelerator participants and EO Brisbane members. EO Members (US$1m+) and EO Accelerators (US$250k-$1m) are later stage entrepreneurs no longer in the startup phase, with thriving businesses. The partnership aligns with our vision to support founders from all stages of their journey.

“The benefit for our members is that via this partnership our connections and talent pool for mentors, advisors and industry experts and veterans has increased in size and quality significantly”.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 13,000 influential business owners with 181 chapters in 57 countries. Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond. 

“We are thrilled to welcome River City Labs to the EO Brisbane community and in particular to our Accelerator program,” EO Australiamarketing and communications chair Annika Launay said.

“We feel there are strong synergies between the two organisations particularly through our passion and commitment to supporting entrepreneurs. With such a strong network of business founders and dedicated professionals, we look forward to growing together towards a successful and rewarding 2019.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter was founded in 1997. The organisation represents a diverse range of industries, including but not limited to

accounting, agriculture, architecture/design, information technology, construction services, education/training, environmental, financial services, health/medical, hospitality services, import/export/trade, legal services, manufacturing, marketing, mining industry, real estate, retail, sports/fitness services, telecommunication services, television/film, travel.

River City Labs’s 12-month EO Brisbane sponsor’s support runs throughout 2019.


GHD Digital backs RCL with 100 hours of support

THE DIGITAL arm of global professional services group GHD is backing River City Labs (RCL) with 100 hours of voluntary service.

GHD’s support was announced at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Reimagination Conference on November 1, just as ACS was settling in to its new ownership of River City Labs from innovator Steve Baxter, who founded and guided the business incubator from 2012.

GHD Digital was formed by the professional services group GHD to help clients embrace rapidly emerging digital advancements to future-proof their businesses.

GHD global digital leader Kumar Parakala announced the pledge during an interview by River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis. 

“Our objective is to create value for our clients in the disruptive world,” Mr Parakala said. “GHD has more than 10,000 people, including 500 digital professionals, in 200 offices delivering services to more than 135 countries around the world.

“This pledge is part of our commitment to engage, co-create, educate and invest in the technology and innovation sector. We are committed to supporting RCL with its coaching and mentoring needs and providing startups in RCL with exposure to our industry and clients in areas of mutual interest.

“We look forward to learning more about the innovations the startups are working on, and are excited about the opportunity for GHD Digital to partner with RCL to better serve our clients and support the RCL start-up ecosystem.”

Ms Ellis said GHD’s commitment created a rare opportunity for RCL startups and scaleups.

“One of the big barriers for growth for young companies, or those in the scale up phase, is not having connections into large organisations,” Ms Ellis said. “Being supported by and aligning with corporates like GHD will enable us to propel our start-ups further and faster.

“We continue to build valuable relationships with organisations that help foster the growth of our start-up companies. We are looking forward to working together and seeing where this relationship will take us in the future.”


ACS buys River City Labs

ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, has acquired the River City Labs Group – including the operations of the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst – with immediate effect and a determination to accelerate the iconic Brisbane-based business incubator.

ACS has committed to invest $7.5 million over the next three years in ramping up its mission to support tech entrepreneurs, according to River City Labs founder Steve Baxter.

From its creation by Mr Baxter in 2012, the River City Labs Group has led the way in fostering the growth of tech startups and scale-ups in Queensland and is focused on building the platform solutions for the world of tomorrow. 

On May 9, Mr Baxter – who made his early fortune from the astute development and sale to TPG of PIPE Networks, but is probably best known as a ‘shark’ on Ten’s Shark Tank startups TV program – circulated a call seeking expressions of interest from corporates, community groups or individuals with the vision, the capability and the passion to take control of
future operations and ownership of River City Labs Pty Ltd. 

More than 20 EOIs were received, which were then short listed first as a group of six, and then again down to a list of four. 

“We’re tremendously excited by being afforded the opportunity to grow River City Labs,” ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said. “ACS’ vision is for Australia to be a world leader in technology talent, that fosters innovation and creates new forms of value.

“We understand that new jobs growth in a digital economy comes from tech startups, and we are pleased to be in a situation where we can contribute to growing the tech ecosystem both in Queensland and more broadly across the country” Mr Ramasundara said.

For existing tenants and partners of the RCL Group, services will continue unchanged. The team will remain the same with Mr Baxter still involved as an advisor and continuing to be a major influence.

“After six amazing years, I’m truly excited to see RCL evolve,” Mr Baxter said. “When we launched this process it was about finding the right custodian for RCL, not just to maintain business as usual but to take it to the next level.

“The ACS came to the table with fresh new ideas, a compelling vision for supporting tech 
entrepreneurship in Queensland and beyond, and a willingness to invest. There are so many people who’ve
contributed so much to this journey, thanks to all of you.

“But don’t go anywhere – the job has only 
just begun,” he said. 

Since its launch, more than 700 startup founders have set up office at River City Labs. Just under 29,000 people have passed through the doors, attending more than 1,000 startup and community events. 

RCL has run programs in partnership with some of Australia’s biggest companies, including BOQ, CUA, Suncorp and Telstra. RCL is a leading provider of startup-related programs in Australia, including River Pitch, a quarterly event bringing together pre-screened startups and investors; the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst.

The RCL Accelerator, powered by muru-D has graduated 28 Queensland startups including
 Travello, Maxwell MRI and Punta. Startup Catalyst takes startups, investors, corporates, tech-savvy
youth, and innovation leaders to international startup hotspots including Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, Israel, and Asia.

The ACS acquisition of RCL takes effect immediately and all team members have been asked to remain in their current roles, with ACS is committed to stability and continuing RCL’s and Startup Catalyst’s growth and ensuring a thriving tech ecosystem both in Queensland and across the country. 

ACS is the professional association for Australia’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector. More than 42,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. ACS was originally known as the Australian Computer Society and now prefers its acronym because of the vast expansion of its membership and the sectors it covers.


Ideas into businesses: CUA-River City Labs program calls for applications

ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS looking for support and mentorship to turn their idea into a strong business proposition are being invited to apply for a 12-week placement based at River City Labs’ innovation space in Brisbane.

Australia’s largest credit union, CUA is again sponsoring the CUA Conduit Pre-Accelerator Program – which was formerly called the CUA Sponsored Entrepreneur Program – to provide startups with full-time desk membership at River City Labs to help accelerate their ideas. 

Under the membership, the teams receive support such as structured mentoring, specialist masterclasses and support with publicity and promotion.

CUA has been supporting River City Labs since 2015 and has sponsored 25 teams so far.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis welcomed CUA’s continued involvement in the program.

“We are looking forward to partnering with CUA again to deliver an expertly tailored program to drive innovation for micro-business,” Ms Ellis said.

 “We expect to see a high calibre of applications from teams with products already in the market, that will gain value from the workshops and mentor sessions and ready to fast track their progress.”

CUA head of innovation, Melissa Witheriff said she was looking forward to seeing new, innovative business ideas being nurtured and developed.

“We’ve seen previous groups of entrepreneurs identify a significant market need and respond with unique ideas that were turned into value-added solutions,” Ms Witheriff said.

“This program is an excellent opportunity for startups to lay the foundations to become strong global businesses.”

The collaboration is part of CUA’s innovation strategy and the member-owned organisation’s focus on leveraging external expertise, tapping into innovative new ideas and supporting startups to develop solutions to real-world problems.

CUA is Australia’s largest credit union, Ms Witheriff said, offering responsible financial health and insurance solutions to about 500,000 Australians.

“As a mutual, we were created by members for members and we care for them through the changes and challenges in their lives,” she said. “Our growth and success enables us to reinvest in our business, deepen our relationships with members and build stronger communities.”

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling its corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community

Applications are open until 11.59pm AEST on June 11, 2018.

Link for applications:



River City Labs helps Advance youth in business

AFTER ITS SUCCESS in 2017, the Advance Queensland Young Starters’ Competition is returning with up to $45,000 worth of prizes for Queenslanders aged 15-24 who want to take their business ideas to the next level.

The Young Starters’ competition is aimed at helping Queensland’s young entrepreneurs to build business skills and develop their startup ideas to become investor-ready. 

“Following on from the success of last year’s competition, we anticipate an increase in applicants both in Brisbane and regional Queensland,” River City Labs organiser and operations manager Tarryn Thiele said.

“We’re excited to also have on board Scott Millar, finalist from 2017 Young Starters Competition, to provide guidance to entrepreneurs starting in this field,” Ms Thiele said.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to see entrepreneurship as a career pathway, develop and pitch ideas to investors and be a part of Queensland’s contribution to supporting youth in business.

The competition was officially launched on April 6 at River City Labs’ Fortitude Valley headquarters in an evening of celebrating ‘young starters’.

River City Labs welcomed more than 100 attendees as they heard stories from some of Queensland’s young entrepreneurs.

Among the presenters were Bop Industries founder Scott Millar, who told his story and acted as master of ceremonies for the Let’s Celebrate Young Starters’ event; the GenIn challenge project manager, Megan Short; Indooroopilly State High School deputy principal Timothy Barraud; AntiOrdinary founder Rob Joseph; Pegasus App founder Rosanna Relton; and TechFlow co-founder Yash Dutt.

Young Starters 2017 winner Grant Sampson said he gained valuable experience from entering the competition.

“Before the Young Starters Competition in 2017, I had the very limited knowledge and scope of what I had to do to take my startup to the next level,” Mr Sampson said.

“Over the course of the weekend, I was able to receive more feedback, knowledge and skills than I had already gathered through previous courses. This didn’t stop there. The support I have received since the competition has helped me to grow and bring my idea to a reality. I now have a small team helping me finish my app, BragTag.

“I would highly recommend to everyone with either a small idea or a progressing startup to enter as, no matter what stage your idea is at, you will gain so much knowledge and many business skills.”

Applicants are required to progress through a series of stages throughout the competition, including submission of pitch videos and selected to attend a pitch bootcamp. Ten teams will then be chosen to present a live pitch at the Young Starters Competition Pitch Breakfast held on July 23, and the winners will be announced.

The winners will share in prizes including an entrepreneurial skills program for a school, up to $5,000 for a startup; co-working space for a startup, and participation in the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission.

Applications for the Young Starters’ Competition are open until May 31 at 4pm.

“River City Labs fosters the growth of startup companies wanting to solve big problems,” Mr Thiele said. “We provide resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs. Central to everything we do is a focus on collaboration and connection.”

“Since 2012 more than 460 entrepreneurs have called River City Labs home. Through our events program we have welcomed more than 16,000 guests into our community by hosting over 500 events aimed at supporting founders on their entrepreneurship journey.”

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling its corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community.


Just add investment: RiverPitch funding event entices startups

RIVER CITY LABS is now seeking submissions for the next RiverPitch event on May 17 – where investment-ready ‘tech entrepreneurs’ pitch to a pre-screened selection of Australia’s leading investors.

A River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis spokesperson said applications would remain open until April 15 for the next RiverPitch being staged at the Royal International Convention Centre at Bowen Hills, Brisbane. 

Ms Ellis said it was the biggest venue yet “and a sign of how the event has grown since its first edition in November 2012”.

RiverPitch seeks to reconceptualise how investors and members of the startup mobile-web-internet community might meet and form mutually beneficial relationships. RiverPitch differentiates itself from Angel Investment groups by having no formal requirements for how investment may occur.

As River City Labs founder and Ten’s Shark Tank investor Steve Baxter is fond of saying, RiverPitch exists “to bring two parties together in a social setting to potentially have a million-dollar conversation”.

Applicants are asked to submit a short form and 90-second video via the F6S online platform. Submissions are reviewed by a committee of RiverPitch members, who will invite the top 10-15 applicants for an interview at River CityLabs the following week. Up to six finalists will then be selected, who will attend a series of practice sessions in the lead-up to the May 17 event.

Ms Ellis said RiverPitch was the next phase in River City Labs’ goal of placing Brisbane at the forefront of a technology boom in Australia. Trading off River City Labs’ nationally recognised brand-name in the start-up sector, and with sponsorship from McCullough Robertson and Morgans, RiverPitch’s goal is no less grand than to “change the way investing is done in Brisbane.”

Past alumni of RiverPitch include Audeara, the ‘world’s first full fidelity headphones, designed by doctors and engineers’ which has garnered rave reviews on Boss Hunting and the Australian Financial Review; and SiteSee, which uses drone footage and machine learning to map, manage and analyse critical infrastructure projects.

Selected applicants will pitch at Startup Invest which is being staged in conjunction with the Myriad Festival – now Brisbane’s biggest annual startup festival.

RiverPitch applications close on April 15.

Startups can apply through the F6s portal:


River City Labs has fostered the growth of startup companies wanting to solve big problems since 2012 in Brisbane. It provides resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs.

“Central to everything we do is a focus on collaboration and connection,” CEO Peta Ellis said. “Since 2012 over 460 entrepreneurs have called RCL home. Through our events program we have welcomed more than 16,000 guests into our community by hosting over 500 events aimed at supporting founders on their entrepreneurship journey.

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the start-up community. Recent partnerships in the financial technology sphere include sponsorship and collaborations with BOQ and CUA.


BOQ teams up with River City Labs to drive Qld fintech

THE INNOVATIVE business banking minds at BOQ are teaming up with renowned Brisbane-based technology hub and accelerator, River City Labs (RCL), to help drive the  financial technology (fintech) and startup environment in Queensland.

BOQ and RCL are cementing a two-year corporate partnership that will not only assist startups to develop but also engage BOQ teams as part of that process. 

BOQ group executive and chief operations, digital and information officer, Donna-Maree Vinci said the two-year deal signified the growing link between corporates and the startup community “which will ultimately benefit customers by enhancing their banking experience while providing new experience for staff”.

“BOQ is a firm friend of RCL and this mutually beneficial partnership will formally connect startups with our people across the group,” Ms Vinci said. “In working side-by-side with RCL members, our people will actively contribute to Australia’s innovation community.

“The new opportunities this partnership presents for BOQ can’t be understated and we are excited about this new chapter with RCL.

“While gaining the opportunity to provide our customers with innovative banking solutions and new age services, our people will also benefit from new insights and immersive experiences, such as a newly created RCL out-turn program.”

As out-turn participants, experienced BOQ employees are partnered with startups requiring a specific skill or knowledge set. BOQ employees participating in this program work one day a week with the startup, over a 12 week period, stimulating new thinking and a startup culture for BOQ. 

Residential space at RCL has been taken by the bank, further increasing access between BOQ and the startup community.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said, “It’s positive to see corporations such as BOQ who we have worked with for more than five years, increase their commitment to the sector and River City Labs in particular. 

“We welcome BOQ as an official corporate partner. This exclusive partnership will allow RCL to implement further programs and solutions for our start-up community. As a resident at RCL, the partnership with BOQ is already delivering benefits with a small team currently developing a creative new business idea, demonstrating just how quickly this partnership is fostering new thinking.”

RCL members will have exclusive access to suitable BOQ products, services and expertise under the bank’s commitment to ethical startup banking.

In addition to implementing capability and culture programs with the regional bank, RCL will proactively connect BOQ with its member entrepreneurs to develop new business opportunities and advance the bank’s digital and innovation agenda.


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