AI and data dominate 2024 UQ Ventures ilab Accelerator cohort

AI and data dominate 2024 UQ Ventures ilab Accelerator cohort

The University of Queensland’s 2024 Ventures ilab Accelerator cohort.

A shift to a more venture capital (VC) focused investment model has yielded an exceptional cohort for the University of Queensland’s (UQ) 2024 Ventures ilab Accelerator, with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data as major themes while a few startups are already operating on a commercial scale. 

AI-powered participants include Chatstat which provides alerts and expert guidance for online risks to young people on social media, mental health support-focused chat program MindMuse, and fashion assistant Joydrobe.

Meanwhile, xplainable pitches itself as an AI engine for business decisions and optimisation, with a python API (application programming interface) that allows data scientists and coders to rapidly build, test, and deploy explainable machine learning models.

Other startups have offerings that are much more hands-on, including vertical farming education startup Australian Urban Growers and retro reviver Flashback, which already has more than $800,000 worth of pre-orders for its cameras that bear the appearance of an old-school disposable camera with a limited amount of shots per session, but with tweaks for the digital and circular economy age.

Another participant PhiSaver has its own IotaWatt hardware installed in fuseboxes, which are linked up to a data platform for per-circuit energy monitoring, aimed at helping users optimise energy production and consumption. The startup already has contracts with the Brisbane and Logan City Councils.

The accelerator program has awarded 10 startups, comprising 17 founders, with $10,000 each in investment funding to help launch their early-stage ventures.

Now in its 18th iteration, Ventures ilab is one of the longest-running accelerator programs in Australia and has supported more than 230 startups, creating 1,500 jobs and attracting around $206 million in investment funding. 

UQ Ventures head of entrepreneurship, Nimrod Klayman, said the teams started the three-month intensive program this month.

"We eagerly look forward to championing the latest founders and entrepreneurs, applauding their achievements, and witnessing their growth," Klayman says.

Program lead Tyson Jennings described the 2023-24 cohort as one of the strongest yet.

“It’s with great respect for the amazing job my predecessors have accomplished that I look forward to this new era of the Ventures ilab Accelerator program,” he says.

Meet ilab accelator’s 2024 cohort:

  • The Act 2 Project – Untapping the talent pool of career returners for innovative employers
  • Joydrobe – AI fashion assistant to help increase customer satisfaction
  • Australian Urban Growers – Developing a sustainable food system through practical education
  • Xplainable – Building trust in machine learning with human-understandable predictive models
  • Flashback – The soul of a film camera reborn in a digital era
  • Chatstat – AI-driven platform offering real-time, non-invasive social media monitoring focused on at-risk youth
  • PhiSaver – A per-circuit energy monitoring system
  • Recovery Metrics – The google analytics of mental health care
  • GradeGuru – A study copilot that understands how you learn
  • MindMuse – AI to Help 10,000 people improve mental health support

The Ventures ilab Accelerator program provides funding, access to UQ’s global mentoring and investor network, workshops, guidance from UQ’s Entrepreneur in Residence, and co-working space, and concludes with the ilab Pitch Night on 21 March, showcasing the teams' innovations.

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