ilab and Artesian announce $10m fund for Queensland startups

ilab and Artesian announce $10m fund for Queensland startups

$10m Queensland Startup Fund Announcement

In some of the most significant news in recent times for the Queensland startup scene, ilab and our partner Artesian Capital have signed an agreement to create a $10 million investment fund targeted solely at highly scalable, tech startups companies in Queensland.  The fund’s purpose is to invest in well over 100 Queensland startups in the next 5 years. Importantly the fund will not just invest at very early stages, but will also participate in follow-on stages which is fantastic for those startups demonstrating market traction.

A challenging environment

One of the biggest challenges for tech startup founders in Queensland, and more broadly, Australia, is to survive the journey from the initial great idea to a business demonstrating sufficient proof points (such as early revenues, or sustained growth in user numbers) before investors will have confidence to commit their support with real dollars.

The Queensland Startup Summit in late 2013 highlighted access to capital as one the seven key focus areas most critical to the growth and success of the Queensland startup ecosystem.  The StartupAUS group’s 2014 Crossroads report took a national perspective and unsurprisingly also nominates an increase in the availability of early stage capital to startups as a key recommendation.

While the Queensland startup eco-system is evolving with some impressive startup examples and founder support from accelerators, co-share facilities, events and some excellent mentors, finding access to enough dollars in these early stages remains a challenge.

ilab’s experience

In 2012, ilab created its Germinate program specifically to identify new tech startups with scalable potential, and to provide them with an accelerated three month program of mentor support, of concept validation and early product development coupled with up to $20,000 funding.  Typically ilab is screening 300 founder applications from across Queensland and nationally each year for its two Germinate programs.  Only 8 to 10 of these teams will gain entry in each program.

 

After over two years operation of this accelerator program, one of the frustrations is seeing strong founders with great business ideas slow their progress post Germinate as they try to continue their business momentum and simply sustain their own lives with meagre rations.  In the global marketplace, pace is critical and there are seriously good opportunities at risk.  Stories of overseas founders with far less sweat investment and much less developed IP finding strong backers at these early stages frustrates our startups enormously.

ilab operates strong support from the Queensland Government and the University of Queensland.

The ilab Fund

In response, ilab has expanded its partnership with Artesian Capital to create a long term fund, directly targeted at early stage companies.  It is one that strongly leverages ilab’s selection processes and accelerator programs to seek out businesses with strong potential and committed founders that can execute.  It will allow ilab to expand its program offerings beyond Germinate to include a subsequent 6 month Accelerate program for selected Germinate businesses, and these founders will benefit from direct investment from the ilab Artesian fund.

Crucially, post this early programs, the ilab Artesian fund will have significant capacity to provide immediate follow-on investment in partnership with other direct investors at later stages.  This is a great advantage to the startups seeking later stage raises, and is good for new investors who can see their investments supported by other capital.

So when will the fund be available?  ilab and Artesian have signed a Heads of Agreement to make this happen and are currently developing the necessary legal documentation to define the fund’s operations.  This will provide the necessary detail for investors and meet the federal government’s requirements that allow investors to enjoy returns from the fund tax free!   Once the fund has approval, it will be formally open for investors to participate.

{Update 29 Sep 2014: The ilab Venture Fund documentation has been submitted for approval at the end of September.  This process will take one month and we are planning for the fund to be formally open to investors in early November 2014.  We will provide further updates in early November. Bernie}

{Update 19 Nov 2014: As per plan, the ilab Venture Fund is now open to Investors following endorsement by Innovate Australia !..   See this blog post for more detail.  Bernie}

 

Investor Interest

As an investor, if you would like to understand more fully the fund fundamentals, including the tax free status of fund returns, please contact Tim Heasley (tim@artesianinvest.com).

We will certainly keep you up to date on progress.  The best way to do this is to sign up to receive ilab’s newsletter.    We are living exciting times.

 

Bernie Woodcroft ilab Program Director (bernie.woodcroft@ilab.com.au)

 

ilab Director