Aussie tech hub beats Silicon Valley to win “top incubator in the world”

Deep technology “super incubator” Cicada Innovations has taken out the top gong at an awards ceremony in Dallas, USA, being named “top incubator in the world” by global peak industry association for entrepreneurship programs, the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).

Finalists were selected from over 2200 InBIA member incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship centers from across the globe, with the Redfern-based incubator being the only Australian in the running.

Applicants were ranked across economic and social impact-based metrics, such as the number of start-up entrants and successful exits, jobs created, patents filed, new products and services launched, investment dollars received, value and impact of companies created, depth of collaboration, and much more. To rank globally on such broad and rigorous metrics required proving a focus on the industries of the future, including taking an innovative, holistic, long-term, and program-driven approach to supporting and growing start-ups, according to Petra Andrén, CEO of Cicada Innovations.

“Our primary point of difference at Cicada is our program-driven leadership in deep technologies,” said Ms Andrén. “These science-based innovations create solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today, such as food security, climate change, and an aging population.

“They also need longer time to market, and greater access to domain expertise and STEM talent to scale. This is where Cicada’s shareholder universities – USYD, ANU, UTS, UNSW – and its ecosystem of industry partners and local and overseas investors come into play. Being program-driven and taking a ‘create, validate, and incubate’ approach allows us to provide longer-term support until our promising startups reach scale-up phase, which can take many years.”

Andrén explained that Cicada first “creates” businesses by sourcing IP, qualified researchers and tech founders through commercialisation training programs, such as the Medical Device Commercialisation Training Progam (MDTCP) for medtech. Then they “validate” their proof of concept by running businesses through specialised accelerator programs, testing early stage ideas for real-world applications, before considering them for long-term incubation.

“Once residing inside Cicada, we ‘incubate’ these businesses through access to specialised infrastructure such as labs, hardware spaces, and cleanrooms. They also receive tailored business support services such as mentorship programs from alumni founder entrepreneurs and domain experts offering free assistance on such matters as legal or IP requirements, networking events, easy access to talent in the form of PhD placement programs, access to highly specialized capabilities from our University shareholders,  and much more,” concluded Ms Andrén.

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