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Techstars launches first Asia-Pacific defence and security startup accelerator in Adelaide

THE first startup accelerator focused on developing and commercialising technologies for the defence and security sectors in the Asia Pacific will be established in South Australia this year.

Leading entrepreneurial mentorship program Techstars will launch in South Australia’s capital Adelaide in July and will look to build upon the local startup ecosystem.

Techstars Adelaide is designed to support early-stage companies advancing state-of-the-art applications that revolve around the Internet of things (IoT), big data as well as sensors and robotics.

Adelaide is Australia’s defence hub and hosts world leading defence companies such as BAE Systems, Thales, Lockheed Martin, ASC, SAAB, Rheinmetall and DCNS.

Techstars Adelaide will connect 10 startup teams from all over the world to an established network of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors and representatives from the locally-based defence companies.

Techstars co-founder and co-CEO David Cohen said Adelaide was perfectly designed to be the centre of its first accelerator in the region because of its infrastructure and support for entrepreneurship and startup communities.

“When we were scouting Asia Pacific for potential locations for our first accelerator in the region, we knew we wanted to find a place that would not only attract terrific founders, but also had all the hallmarks of a successful Techstars host city,” he said.

“Defence research has driven some of the most transformative consumer innovation the world has seen, from the internet and GPS to superglue and digital photography,” he said.

“We are excited to invite entrepreneurs to join a program that will help them develop and commercialise cutting-edge products in collaboration with the defence industry.”

Techstars was founded in Boulder, Colorado, in 2007 and is known for holding smaller programs to give companies and entrepreneurs more concentrated development than other contemporary programs.

The incubator is continuing its international expansion after the success of its first African program last year.

Companies that have gone through Techstars’ accelerator programs include Sphero, the creators of the Star Wars model droid BB-8, Occiptial, a state-of-the-art mobile computer vision application developer and marketing analytix platform CrowdTwist.

According to Forbes, the incubator has invested in 828 companies who have collectively raised more than US$2.2 billion in funding. About 90 per cent of Techstars’ graduate companies are still active or have been acquired.

Adelaide is poised to become a global centre of excellence for the defence sector with more than AU$100 billion worth of major industry projects in the pipeline. Recent investment in innovation in South Australia includes an AU$230m Centre for Defence Industry Capability backed by the Australian Federal Government.

South Australia’s Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the new accelerator would not only provide help showcase local entrepreneurs to a global audience but also attract more talent to the state.

“On the back of our Gig City and Commercialisation Funding initiatives, it shows we are succeeding in our mission to position South Australia as the default place for smart new businesses to start and grow,” he said.

Applications for Techstars Adelaide are open, with submissions closing on April 9.

The program will officially launch in July.

South Australian Government

University of South Australia