$2 million accelerator program for tech start-ups launched

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Melbourne based corporate accelerator uSpark has launched the second cohort of its Destination Start-Up Partner program, which offers up to $2 million worth of technical services for start-ups in return for an equity stake. The announcement marks a record for being the largest financial contribution by an Australian accelerator.

uSpark’s program aims to help struggling start-up founders take their business to the next level by providing the missing piece of tech resources and expertise courtesy of Australian technology company Unico, which specialises in always-on mission-critical systems,

Through this partnership model, uSpark directly connects start-ups with access to Unico’s tech experts, bridging the gap between an idea and a technology solution. The second round of the uSpark partnership program offers up to $2 million in services to enable start-ups to become more robust and scale through technology.

“One of the key obstacles for start-ups to get into the Australian market is the lack of technological knowledge, which is something uSpark is on a mission to change,” Unico’s managing director John Rowland said about the launch of the partnership.

“Destination Start-Up Partner Program will help even the playing field for Australian start-ups, by giving non-tech and disadvantaged founders access to the same amount of tech resources as tech founders have,” Rowland added. “We are stepping into the development gap to provide start-ups with the technology to launch a product or service to market, regardless of what sector or background they come from.”

uSpark’s first Destination Start-Up Partner Program was initially launched in February 2021 and received over one hundred expressions of interest from founders who were looking to secure tech support.

Pamela Wilson, one of uSpark’s six Board Directors, explained that the intention is not deliver to educational programs to participants. Instead, they are focusing on collaborating with founders to develop robust products and bring them to market.

“The Program offers a solid team, along with helpful industry contacts and government contacts to help position and guide new businesses through the confusing innovation landscape,” Wilson said. “The unique nature of our program has been very well received, as we make more than just a financial contribution. uSpark is offering a long-term partnership and has a genuine interest in helping founders to develop their products and become as strong and enterprise-ready as possible.”

One of the recipients of a uSpark investment offer is Josh Marsden, founder of Applied Mental Health, who
participated in its first cohort. He will receive $700,000 in technical services to help him scale up his
business.

“Being a non-tech founder myself, I have had to seek tech support offshore as it’s more cost-
efficient,” Marsden said. “Thanks to the uSpark contribution, I will now be able to build a tech team with four to five people in-house and utilise uSpark’s team members for specific elements of our project.”

Applications to uSpark’s Destination Start-Up Partner Program are open from 1 September to 15 October 2021.