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Developing Victoria into a leading AI tech destination

Australia’s first accelerator program to scale-up artificial intelligence companies and a $100 million venture capital fund are launching from a new base in Richmond – in a major step towards establishing Victoria as a leading destination for AI technology within the Asia Pacific.

Backed by $1.5 million from the Government through its start-up agency LaunchVic and $8 million of private sector capital, an AI Scaleup program is set to support 32 mature AI scaleups over four years.

The AI program’s first round of scaleups includes three Victorian companies and two other Australian outfits. Each participating company will receive a minimum of $300,000 in the capital as part of a tailored six-month program addressing the unique challenges of each company.

The Scaleup program will be complemented by a new $100 million AI investment fund to support the growth of the best and brightest AI startups.

AI is a once in a generation technology shift, with vast areas of application including technologies such as machine learning, robotics, computer vision and natural language processing.

Powered by the tech firm, the AI investment fund will invest in up to 150 cutting edge artificial intelligence companies with AI at their core, across all industry sectors and with a focus on the Asia Pacific. AI is projected to be worth $315 billion to Australia’s economy by 2028, requiring up to 161,000 new specialised workers by 2030.

There is more than 300 AI stratus in Australia – including 65 start-ups and scaleups in Victoria.

These programs build on the Labor Government’s focus on accelerating the growth of Victoria’s innovation ecosystem and the digital economy with the Victorian Budget 2020/21 confirming $626 million to upgrade digital infrastructure and develop tech skills and more than $130 million for the start-up sector.

The region’s Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy stated, “We are backing Victoria to be a world-leading innovation hub, and this funding will help us attract and develop the best talent, investment and artificial intelligence expertise. Supporting our start-up and scale-up founders drives Victoria’s future economy and create new opportunities for Victorians.”

The LaunchVic Chief Executive stated, “We are building a robust investor landscape in Victoria to support startups at key stages through their lifecycle.”

The Managing Director of the AI scaleup program stated that the company’s program is the first AI scaleup of its kind that is targeting developed companies that have mature artificial intelligence products with significant traction and revenue.

Under the Victorian Budget 2020/21, $115 million is being invested to further support the agriculture industry, including $65 million support for a range of initiatives that will increase the use of technology, improve infrastructure across the supply chain and boost energy efficiency on local farms, underpinned by a new strategy that responds to the challenges facing Victorian farmers and positions Victorian agriculture for future growth. The Budget also invests $50 million to improve facilities at agriculture colleges.

$626 million over six years for a landmark investment to radically improve mobile coverage and broadband access in regional areas, while supporting businesses and creating new jobs. This includes $10.3 million over the next year for the Victorian Innovation and Jobs Fund to further boost jobs growth across the state and the adoption of innovative technology in the region’s growing SMEs.

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