THE University of Queensland's technology incubator, ilab, has been given the tick of approval by the Queensland Government, with funding granted for the next two years of operations. The incubator has also secured a new seed funding and private investment fund arrangement to assist some of its start-up companies, in alliance with Artesian Venture Partners and UniQuest.
Opengear is one of ilab's long-term success stories. Co-founders are Tony Merenda and Bob Waldie.
Established by the Queensland Government in 2000 - and now operated by The University of Queensland's main commercialisation company, UniQuest - ilab assists entrepreneurs and early stage high tech companies through the first few years of development.
Financial challenges brought on by the global financial crisis and a change of State Government have in recent years overshadowed ilab's fine record in providing seed funding, team development and mentoring to offer many Queensland start-up technology companies a greater chance of success. Ilab has incubated more than 100 start-up companies and helped them to raise over $70 million in grant and investment capital, generating close to 400 technology jobs.
Some of their better-known start-ups include Opengear, QRX Pharma. Liquid Animation. Grabba, Fusion Sport, Microwave and Materials Designs, Charm Health, Cleveland Biosensors and Redlflow.
The State Government funding will go towards continued support of ilab's Germinate programs, building on the success it has achieved over the past two years of its operation.
Germinate has invested almost $300,000 across 19 new enterprises and a further 17 companies have been supported by ilab resources and mentors.
The participants in the Germinate program have included Tiger Temple, an online street style clothing store; Veilability, a venue matching service for the bridal industry; and Fizziofit, which delivers exercise, medicine and fitness technology resources for healthcare professionals.
Ilab program director Leigh Angus said the funding approval was a sign of confidence in ilab and results from the successes that have been achieved by ilab in supporting early stage technology enterprises and their founders.
"We are thrilled at the announcement of the next round of funding which will enable us to continue our work to support entrepreneurs and technology start-ups as they develop and grow their ideas," Ms Angus said.
Further good news for ilab this week was the announcement of a private investment fund to be established in conjunction with Artesian Venture Partners and UniQuest.
UniQuest CEO, Dr Dean Moss said that agreement, reached recently with Artesian Venture Partners, will build a $1.5 million ‘Accelerate Investment Fund' which will invest in a subset of graduates from ilab's Germinate Program.
Mr Moss said, "ilab has been achieving excellent results and we are proud to come together with Artesian Venture Partners to build the Accelerate Investment Fund which will offer private investors a vehicle to invest in a number of the early stage start-up businesses coming through ilab," he said.
Artesian Venture Partners has committed to raising a majority of the $1.5 million fund and will be both investing in the fund itself and inviting private investors to participate.
Jeremy Colless, managing principal of Artesian Venture Partners, said the ilab incubator is already producing start-ups that are attractive to private investors and he is looking forward to the results that the collaboration will bring.
"The program and network access that ilab provides to its program participants accelerates and focuses their business development helping create robust, scalable ventures for angel and other early stage investors," Mr Colless said.
"We are looking forward to working with UniQuest in establishing the investment fund, supporting early stage start up businesses and producing successful commercial outcomes from the burgeoning Queensland tech start-up community."
UQ Holdings Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of The University of Queensland (UQ), acquired ilab in 2009. With continued funding from the State Government, ilab has become an independent division of another UQ Holdings subsidiary, UniQuest, with its own funding, staffing and management structure. ilab is supported by the Queensland Government.
UniQuest is the main commercialisation company of The University of Queensland (UQ), specialising in the commercialisation of intellectual property, research outcomes and expertise. UniQuest delivers commercialisation outcomes which are valuable for UQ and profound for business, the environment, global communities and society as a whole. UniQuest's two business offerings - IP Commercialisation and Expertise Commercialisation - are designed to support UQ's global strategy, industry engagement and reputation for excellence.
UniQuest benchmarks in the top 10 percent globally for university-based technology transfer. UniQuest-licensed UQ innovations are now generating annual sales of $3 billion. UQ superconductor technology, through licensing arrangements, is used in two-thirds of the world's MRIs and more than 79 million doses of the life-saving Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine, patented by UniQuest in 1991, have been distributed throughout 121 countries, including 72 developing countries.