WA start-up sector gets welcome boost

WA’s start-up sector has received a welcome boost with the State Government announcing a three-year partnership with UK-based start-up incubator Founders Factory.

The $7.2 million deal will see Founders Factory establish operations in Perth to help to drive innovation and lure private investment to WA.

CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey welcomed the announcement and said WA is well-placed to become a key innovation hub in the Indo-Pacific region.  

“Our State has the technical know-how to develop new opportunities in areas like automation, biotech, defence, agriculture and decarbonisation technologies,” he said. 

“The challenge for WA start-ups is getting the capital and guidance they need in the early stages of development to get these ideas off the ground, and this initiative will help them to do just that. 

“The skills and ideas are here and with the right support, WA entrepreneurs can compete on a global scale.” 

Building a local team 

Founders Factory will build a local team in Perth who will provide a four-month program supporting start-ups with product development, operations, commercialisation, data science, partnerships, and fundraising. Key areas of focus include reforestation and protection, land management, regenerative agriculture, water and coastal regions, sustainable infrastructure, and the circular economy. 

The global tech investor already runs programs in cities including London, Milan, Berlin, Johannesburg and New York, and has backed more than 300 companies around the world. The firm will also seek to attract international founders to the State for investment, testing and scaling of locally produced technology. 

Premier Roger Cook said: “This is the first time the tech accelerator has operated in Australia, providing a springboard for innovative local businesses to reach an international audience and maximise their chances of success. 

“My Government is committed to decarbonising our economy by 2050 and it’s vital that we support local start-ups developing the technology to reach this goal.” 

Rio backs accelerator program 

While the State Government’s partnership with Founders Factory will centre on nature and biodiversity, CCIWA Member Rio Tinto is also investing in a separate accelerator program to back the development of breakthrough technologies in decarbonisation, exploration processing and remediation. 

“Technology has always been at the forefront of our industry and Western Australia can be the Silicon Valley of the global mining industry,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Simon Trott. 

Founded in 2015, Founders Factory seeks to build and fund start-ups in partnership with visionary entrepreneurs and the world’s biggest companies.  

Founders Factory President George Northcott said it believed that entrepreneurs and technology “can solve the world’s hardest problems”. 

“Preserving nature and the decarbonisation of industry are key challenges in the world today and we are thrilled to be extending our operations to Perth to support more founders in these domains,” he said. 

Morey said support for projects at the early stage will help to deepen the pool of private investors willing to back WA innovation.  

“Currently, only around 2% of the venture capital invested in Australia comes to WA, despite the significant economic contribution of our mining and agriculture sectors,” he said. 

“CCIWA has advocated for efforts to support the local VC sector and this announcement is a significant step in the right direction.”


To be part of WA’s peak business organisation, get in touch via 1300 422 492 or [email protected].    

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