Plug and Play on the lookout for Vic start-up companies
The Plug and Play Tech Center, believed to be the largest start-up accelerator in the world, has announced it will work with the newly formed Australian Graphene Industry Association (AGIA) to identify a Victorian start-up company in the advanced materials field that will become part of its accelerator program in Silicon Valley.
Considered one of the world’s most important start-up accelerators, Plug and Play provides selected start-ups with a platform to present to and communicate directly with companies that are highly motivated to work with them in commercialising new products and/or investing strategically. The company understands that innovation can come from anywhere and often requires a culture that is diametrically different to the companies themselves.
Meanwhile, the AGIA was recently established to act as a point of contact and information for businesses interested in pursuing the use of graphene to improve their products. The board of directors is chaired by Chris Gilbey, CEO of Geelong graphene manufacturer Imagine Intelligent Materials, with initial funding provided by the Victorian Government.
Plug and Play is now evaluating a potential partnership with the Victorian Government and AGIA to encourage Australian start-ups with cutting-edge technology to step forward — possibly granting them entry to Plug and Play’s global ecosystem. The move would enable them to fast-track business development, access capital and engage with Fortune 500 companies eager to identify and/or invest in the next big technology innovation.
At the AGIA’s Graphene+2018 conference, held in Hawthorn on 8 October, Plug and Play Vice-President Omer Gozen guaranteed at least one Australian graphene start-up would make the shortlist of 100 start-ups globally that is circulated to Plug and Play’s corporate partners — they could then potentially become one of the final 20 brought into the accelerator program.
“We believe Australia has real depth in the quality of its start-up community and we believe we will find the next Uber or Airbnb of advanced materials start-ups right here in Australia,” Gozen said.
“After meeting with the team at Australia’s leading graphene company, Imagine, and selecting them to go through our accelerator program in Silicon Valley during the first half of 2018, we became excited by the possibility of identifying other Australian start-ups, given this country’s tremendous depth of talent in materials science — graphene in particular.”
Plug and Play understands that the benefits of pairing start-ups to corporations and investors are maximised when both parties are ready, to ensure that everyone’s time is utilised as productively as possible. Start-ups pitch to people with a specific technology focus who are often the global leaders in that industry.
“As a result of becoming part of Plug and Play, my company, Imagine, started commercial discussions with four of the biggest companies in the world,” said Gilbey. “Becoming part of Plug and Play is business development on steroids. You connect, you learn and you grow, and you do it faster than you could possibly do otherwise. I am delighted that the AGIA can essentially launch its activities as an industry association by creating this priceless opportunity for an Australian company to create impact on the world stage.
“We are at a time in history when we need technology to solve global problems — and we need these solutions now. I want to create an opportunity for the next Australian graphene or materials science start-up to be recognised as a potential ‘unicorn’ and to then deliver on that promise.”
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