Seed fund for Perth start-ups launched

BetterLabs Pty Ltd has launched a $3 million seed fund to support founders in overcoming the hurdle of working to validate their product and business model, prior to accelerating towards their profitable growth.

BetterLabs is part of the RAC’s strategic innovation function that was set up over three years ago, ensuring the organisation continues to innovate into the future for the benefit of its members and for the better of WA.

“The pace of change and disruption in the world is accelerating. To ensure we remain relevant and sustainable, we need to learn and innovate at a greater speed. BetterLabs is one of the innovation initiatives that we are pursuing to secure RAC’s future,” said RAC Group CEO Terry Agnew.

The BetterLabs Venture Fund will initially build a portfolio of around 10 companies and while the fund is backed by the RAC, it is looking to invest in a range of opportunities, not just those that may be associated with RAC in the areas of mobility and insurance. This includes opportunities in clean tech, community building, transitioning for the aging population, work and money, and next gen insurance.

Erica Haddon, Executive General Manager Strategic Innovation, said BetterLabs has ensured we are able to incubate new businesses in line with startup prototyping principles, including the recent launch of RAC’s energy business.

“We recognise that while part of building a successful innovation culture is to incubate our own businesses, we also understand the value in backing other entrepreneurs to access new technologies, business models and growth opportunities. We are excited to launch our first venture fund to partner with some of WA’s best startup companies,” Haddon said.

Derek Gerrard has recently been engaged as the Entrepreneur-In-Residence and will lead the BetterLabs Venture Fund. Well known in the startup community, including bringing Innovation Bay to Perth in 2015, providing over $3 million of investment to Perth startups, and as Director of Go Capital which has invested over $10 million in some of Perth’s best startups including Health Engine and iCetana.

Gerrard, also the co-founder of the sustainability software company Greensense, which was successfully sold in 2015, has also reviewed over 300 startup investment opportunities and said this is a great opportunity for WA startups.

“Seed funding is vital in supporting the growth journey of a startup, so I’m excited to be a part of launching the BetterLabs Venture Fund. Innovation is part of our future and I’m looking forward to finding the right people with the right ideas, so we can work with to help make WA a better place,” he said.

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