UQ Ventures ilab Accelerator launches second annual cohort

UQ Ventures ilab Accelerator launches second annual cohort

The second UQ Ventures ilab Accelerator cohort for 2024.

A shift to a venture funding model with Uniquest has enabled the University of Queensland (UQ) Ventures ilab Accelerator to launch its first-ever 'Chapter 2' cohort in one year, as the first batch continues kicking goals on several fronts.

Each of the 12 startups selected will receive $15,000 in funding to help launch their early-stage ventures as part of the 19th iteration of the initiative, one of Australia's longest-running accelerator programs that has supported 290 startups, created 1,550 jobs and attracted around $220 million in investment and grant funding.

UQ Ventures head of entrepreneurship Nimrod Klayman says the teams started on the three-month intensive program this week. 

"We are thrilled to return to running two ilab programs a year, with an increased investment of $15,000 and record 26 founders from diverse backgrounds," Klayman says.

"This cohort is set to be our most dynamic and innovative yet, and we can't wait to support these visionaries as they turn groundbreaking ideas into impactful ventures."

Program lead Tyson Jennings says there continues to be an artificial intelligence (AI) flavour in the cohort with AI image generator Blunge that blends both text and blended drawing prompts, and Sunflower AI which provides live captioning and translation for events.

Tyson also notes a shift to more product-based startups as well, such as MUSHEE that uses coffee waste to create mycelium packaging to replace styrofoam, and popcorn alternative Power Pops.

"We're seeing more physical products come back into the mix, and less digital SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses," he says.

"We’ve seen a massive increase in the quality and the commitment of the founders based on the investment side of things. Because of that increased commitment, we're seeing much more mature businesses and business owners."

Jennings is also excited to welcome two very high-calibre new entrepreneurs in residence to the accelerator - Abbey Cameron, the co-founder and CEO of healthy meal delivery service Nourish'd, and Angus McLachlan, a Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs lister who is co-founder and CEO of innovative online food ordering platform Bopple.

"Their guidance will significantly enhance the entrepreneurial journey for all participants," says Jennings.

The announcement this week comes as numerous alumni from the first cohort make breakthroughs with their ventures. 

The accelerator's pitch night in March was won by Xplainable founder Jamie Tuppack whose startup opens up the black box of the "how and why" of machine learning to users of predictive models. Jennings says Xplainable recently took part in a trade mission to the UK and is on the cusp of announcing material news.

Meanwhile Dr Keira Buchanan's Recovery Metrics, which won the people's choice award on the night, has gone on to receive further funding from Amplar Health and Uniquest.

Dr Buchanan, who runs an eating disorder treatment center, has developed analytics tools so that practitioners can proactively monitor their patients' progress and make data-driven decisions. The technology was able to generate a 160 per cent improvement in patient outcomes at her own practice, prompting Recovery Metrics to expand out into the broader health system.

Flashback, which mimics the user experience of disposable cameras but with digital elements for reuse, is in the process of moving to Hong Kong to be part of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.

Chatstat, a parental control tool that detects for cyber bulling children, teenagers, and vulnerable individuals, was also recently selected for the LuminaX HealthTech Accelerator program on the Gold Coast.

The Ventures ilab Pitch Night has been scheduled for 12 September, with pitches expected from the following companies and their 26 founders:

  • MUSHEE – Mushroom packaging using coffee waste and more
  • Inoya – Toxin-free and sustainable period care for all
  • Bach Technology Pty Ltd – Bach is a PaaS for managed cloud hosting
  • APEX Fitness – Creating smart gym equipment for workout tracking
  • Blunge.ai – Drawing made easy with AI
  • Sunflower AI – AI live captioning and translation for events
  • Knowa – Connecting hospitality businesses and suppliers
  • Fortus – A social platform and workout tracker for gym-goers
  • Lilo – A marketplace for buying and selling used furniture
  • Power Pops – A new, healthy, and tasty way to snack
  • Cauldron Today – A social media app for discussions and debates
  • Speachy – Empowering the world to find their voice

 

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