New programs will give startups and entrepreneurs the confidence and financial support to grow their ideas into businesses, as the state tackles the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said $2.5 million in funding would support programs under the Future Industries eXchange for Entrepreneurship (FIXE), which has an overarching vision to grow South Australia’s culture of entrepreneurship.

“Now is the time to focus on developing our state’s entrepreneurial culture, improving the capability of our startups and mobilising the capital needed to make South Australia a global leader in entrepreneurship,” Minister Pisoni said.

“A new $2 million program called Go2Gov calls on startups and early stage high growth businesses to propose solutions to solve some of the public sector’s biggest challenges.

“Government should be a customer of innovation just as much as any industry – so in a South Australian first and in response to a Productivity Commission recommendation, we are reaching out to startups, calling for their ideas about how we can deliver better services for our community.

“The program is an innovation challenge format, where the state government will issue public sector challenges into the market and startups will be supported to submit proposals to address those challenges.

“The challenges will be innovation-friendly, require the development of novel solutions and have the potential to scale beyond government.

“We’ve also launched a new $200,000 FIXE Scholarships program to support key staff of early-stage scaleup businesses or high-growth businesses, to participate in leadership, management and innovation development training.

“The Scholarships consist of grants from $1,000 to $5,000 and are funded through the Research Commercialisation and Startup Fund.

“And, through our Activate Angels program, also funded through the RCSF, Innovation Bay will receive $190,000 and Southern Angels $175,000 to help grow angel investor networks that invest in more early-stage businesses.”

Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley said South Australia can capitalise post COVID-19 as a perfect environment for businesses to grow through entrepreneurship.

“Our state offers connections to core research strengths like machine learning and artificial intelligence, trustworthy systems, a local cyber security capability, a strong services economy, high quality research and education institutions, and high living standards,” Mr Whalley said.

“The past few months have been difficult for many, with bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic, and ever-increasing cyber threats: I’ve been very proud of how we’ve banded together and supported each other, something the South Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem does incredibly well.”

Highlights from the first year of the FIXE action plan include:

  • Stone & Chalk Startup Hub established at Lot Fourteen, with 43 startups and 149 team members currently located there.
  • Supported 280 companies and has hosted a wide variety of startup and entrepreneurship events, programs and seminars.
  • 17 South Australian startups approved for funding totalling $7.82 million through the Research Commercialisation and Startup Fund (Stream 2). These companies have collectively matched their grant funding with $10 million in private funding.
  • FIXE Mentoring program during the COVID-19 crisis had more than 122 applicants, and has matched more than 70 companies with a SA business mentor.
  • The Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C) at Lot Fourteen established
  • Appointed Artesian Venture Partners to manage the SA Venture Capital Fund
  • GigCity network has expanded to Whyalla and Mount Gambier
  • _southstart conference supported
  • Facilitated and encouraged angel, venture capital, private equity, corporate and other forms of investment into early-stage local businesses.

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