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Runway Geelong, the regional startup hub and accelerator program backed by LaunchVic, officially opened its doors this week at the old industrial Federal Woollen Mills site and revealed the 14 early stage businesses chosen to take part in its first bootcamp.

The startups, including an AI-led fishing app, intelligent pram, and anti-food counterfeiting solution, will then be whittled down to five to make up the first accelerator cohort.

Peter Dostis, Runway CEO, said the program collected around 40 applications for its first round, a number coming from far-flung locations including Italy and Canada. With 20 coming from Geelong, eight from Melbourne, and three from elsewhere around regional Victoria, Dostis said the strength of the concepts “testament to the depth of quality startup ideas out there”.

Accelerator participants will be awarded a grant of $15,000 to $30,000, with the opportunity for $50,000 to $250,000 in equity funding following the program’s conclusion.

With Runway also be running workshops, networking sessions, and other events for the wider community, Dostis added that Runway is keen to become a key player in the growing startup landscape at the Federal Woollen Mills.

“The community at the Woollen Mills boasts successful disruptive companies like Tribal, Localised, and Insight Logic. I’ve got no doubt [it] will continue to grow into a vital collaborative hub,” Dostis said.

“The support of LaunchVic for the Runway program here in Geelong is a tremendous validation of the potential for startup businesses in our community to scale and thrive.”

The initiative was awarded $1.25 million in funding over four years in LaunchVic’s first funding round, with its goal to “act as a catalyst for innovation in the region, helping to stimulate new business growth and create jobs through mentoring, training and improving access to venture capital networks”.

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Philip Dalidakis, said, “Runway is an exciting opportunity for young companies and ideas to develop, create jobs, and be a part of a very bright future in Geelong and beyond.”

Runway Geelong is just one of several regional-focused initiatives awarded funding by LaunchVic.

LaTrobe University was given $1 million for an accelerator focused on Victoria’s regional economy and agricultural jobs, while $450,000 in funding was given to Dimension Data and Deakin University to establish a cybersecurity incubator at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong.

Deakin University also announced the development of the Future Fibres Hub, an Australian Research Council research and development centre, at its Waurn Ponds campus in October.

The $13.2 million centre, funded through the Federal Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Programme and the Australian Research Council, will be tasked with leading the development of future fibre-based materials, from short polymer fibres for the medical, textile, and industrial sectors, and carbon fibre composites for the automotive industry.

The launch of these digital-focused initiatives comes as Geelong looks to shift its economy from manufacturing, with Ford having shut down its plant in the city last October.

The 14 bootcamp participants are:

  • The Baby Club – Customisable and intelligent baby strollers sold directly to consumers
  • Drosaic – Connects subscribers to drone imagery and drone pilots to subscribers
  • InMach – Gamifies project delivery, enabling real performance insight
  • Global Centre of Research & Engagement – Safeguards the lives of people working or travelling offsite and overseas
  • Fysho – A fishing app driven by artificial intelligence
  • The Perfict Team – An app that provides a platform for personal trainers to run their business
  • KanDo – A platform for building a mutual economy
  • Clann – A new online website/app disrupting the childcare Industry
  • CollabHero – Revolutionises collaboration in education
  • Ino8 – A new generation of leaning cars that are as narrow as bikes but long enough for four seats
  • Data on a Shoestring – Solution for engineering services businesses to measure progress and scope change
  • Trusted Food – Program for combatting food-counterfeiting activities
  • Mindful Sourcing – Program for monitoring factory ethical audit performance results
  • EcoKit – Low-cost environmentally sustainable housing

Image: Nick Stanley; Philip Dalidakis; Tristonne Forbes; Amanda McFadden; Leighton Wells; Peter Dostis; Rebecca Casson; Kate Cornick. Source: Supplied. 

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