Accelerator Program graduates celebrated

The inaugural cohort of La Trobe University’s Accelerator Program celebrated the end of their 12-week mentoring program this week at a graduation ceremony at Queen’s Hall, Parliament House.

It was a dual celebration, as nine new start-up ideas were awarded seed funding for the second round of the Accelerator Program which will kick off early next year.

The La Trobe Accelerator Program provides students, researchers, alumni and Victorian communities the opportunity to accelerate the development of their start-up.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar congratulated the winners of Accelerator at the end of the 12-week program and thanked LaunchVic for providing the funding for the program.

Speaking at the event, Professor Dewar said graduations were extremely important events at universities and that they signified the beginning, rather than the end of a process.

“Graduations are extremely important events in the life cycle of the university – but this one is particularly special, as we are seeing the first ever teams to graduate from the Accelerator Program,” Professor Dewar said.

“In the case of today’s event, this meaning is very literal, as the graduates will go on to develop their ideas further and kick off their own commercial start-ups.

“We’ve been delighted with the progress of the first group of projects to come through the La Trobe Accelerator Program, and we think the program has done a fantastic job in helping our entrepreneurs accelerate through the steps involved in developing a start-up.

Earlier this year, the WedgePro pitching aid was crowned inaugural La Trobe Accelerator winner.

The WedgePro team, which designed a golf training aid, will use some of the $20,000 first prize to exhibit the finished product at the world’s biggest golf show in the United States in 2019.

Four other teams received prizes of between $7500 and $10,000 for start-up ideas: providing handwagons to people in sub-Saharan Africa; vital-sign monitoring in India; a cheap and simple tester to detect toxic heavy metals in water and the online marketer Trendy Rhino.

The teams finished their 12-week mentoring at La Trobe University this week with guidance on progressing their business ideas and eventually getting to market.

Jamie Ward from WedgePro said they enjoyed working with many departments at La Trobe University during the 12 weeks, including sport, engineering, law, business, marketing and media.

“This injection of knowledge, skills and know-how from La Trobe University and their industry contacts was exactly what we needed,” he said.

“We have gone so far with our idea but this will be the trigger to get the design perfected and ready for market and then with a strategy to sell it.”

Eight start-ups participated in the 12-week Accelerator program after pocketing at least $5000 each.

Of the nine new teams which were awarded seed funding for the next round of the La Trobe Accelerator Program in 2018, two will receive $20,000 each.

This includes a team of La Trobe researchers who have developed a nanofabricated microscope slide (the ‘NanoMslide’) and a team who have created a remote monitoring system that reduces the rate of heart attacks in fire fighters, which account for more than 50 per cent of fire fighter deaths.

Media contact - Sally Heppleston s.heppleston@latrobe.edu.au or 0408 556 018.

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