Pre-Accelerator Program Grants FAQs

INFORMATION SESSION #2 QUESTIONS

Updated 24 April 2020

14. Does your definition of tech-based include simpler tech like e-commerce? Examples of technology include software / app, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, advanced manufacturing & robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, augmented / virtual reality, 3D printing, advanced materials, genomics & life sciences (including biotech & medtech) and autonomous vehicles. Your Pre-Accelerator program scan accept startup entrepreneurs who have an idea for an e-commerce platform if they have high impact potential and a scalable business model.

13. Are there any special considerations for regional programs? Programs based in a regional setting, or programs supporting Startup Entrepreneurs in the regions are encouraged to apply. Additional funding may be allocated to support programs supporting regional Startup Entrepreneurs.

We understand some regional areas may not have a huge pool of technology-focused startups however, one of the objectives of this grant program is to increase the pipeline of future startups being created across Victoria. In your application, you can outline how your program will aim to support this objective.

12. We currently run a similar program which is due to finish at the end of 2020. If we are successful in this grant, can we start the program in Jan 2021? We would expect applications for the Pre-Accelerator Program to be opened before the end of 2020 or sooner. Programs commencing in 2021 would need to be able to justify the start date and be of high quality. Established programs seeking funding should refer to Question 9 under the Applicant Questions 

11. Can we support startups if they have multiple founders from different states, but one in Vic? LaunchVic is funded by the Victorian State Government to support Victorians. To be eligible, the proposed program must primarily support Victorian Startup Entrepreneurs. Startup Entrepreneurs are defined as individuals who have an idea for a technology-based Startup and seeking to launch a Startup and register their new Company via ASIC in the State of Victoria.

10. When we are recruiting program participants, should we exclude early stage startups with an ABN? We expect that participants (Startup Entrepreneurs) going through these programs to be at a very early i.e. ideation stage. They may have an idea for a technology-based Startup and are seeking to launch and register their new Company via ASIC in the State of Victoria. They may have recently registered an ABN, but are still at the very early stage.

9. It was mentioned that Pre-Accelerator programs must run for a minimum of 2 years, could you clarify what this means? Does it mean that it has to be a recurring program that runs from 2020 to 2022? The length of the contract with the successful applicant to deliver the Pre-Accelerator Program will be for a minimum of 2 years. LaunchVic has not specified a minimum number of, or maximum program length of each Pre-Accelerator cohort but we expect there to be multiple cohorts.

8. Are there any preferences or guidelines about whether programs should be for profit / non-profit? We don’t have a preference on this. LaunchVic recognises that at times charging a fee may enhance the programs sustainability path, and participant commitment. LaunchVic has funded programs that do charge participation fees in the past. Through the application process LaunchVic would want to understand how much the program fee is, why the program fee is required and the commercial model behind it. 

7. Can you please clarify what you mean by ‘sustainability’? LaunchVic wants to invest in organisations that will look to become sustainable on its own in the future, however we understand that we are in unusual times. We expect to discuss sustainability with shortlisted applications at the Virtual Pitch day. 

6. What if our Pre-Accelerator proposal meets the intent of the grant program, but the methodology is different? LaunchVic defines a Pre-Accelerator as a program targeted at Startup Entrepreneurs who have an idea for a technology startup and want to establish a business and develop an MVP. The program runs for a designated period of time, and participants ‘graduate’ from the program having followed a set methodology. A pre-accelerator program can provide a pathway to an Accelerator program. If you are still unsure, please contact grants@launchvic.org.

5. Are there any key areas you want to see addressed in the pre-accelerator program to improve the viability and quality of startups? We want to hear what you understand to be the most important aspects early-stage Startup Entrepreneurs need support in. The specific topics and content you plan to teach should be included in your program overview. 

4. If a company already exists but wants to explore technology to pivot, would that be appropriate? It would ultimately depend where they are on their journey. If they have traction, customers, or investment, they would not fit the criteria of early-stage.

3. If we have helped companies to become national and international, for example an SEO company which has developed their own platform to run their business, but not platforms for others to use eg Xero, would these types of businesses be acceptable? Programs that support individuals or small businesses to create a technology solution for their own business would be ineligible. Startup Entrepreneurs must have an idea for a technology-based Startup with high impact potential, that use innovation and/or address scalable markets.

2. As you are looking for pre-MVP startups, do you have a view on the measurement of impact (as opposed to activity) of the funded program? We expect you to be able to articulate in your proposal the impact your program will have. Applicants are required to outline how many Startup Entrepreneurs will be supported by the program and any other outcomes of the Program in the application. 

1. In terms of expertise, does the program team need to have expertise in helping Tech businesses start specifically, or in helping businesses start generally? Absolutely. We want to fund people who have demonstrable experience in supporting technology-based startups and in particular, very early startups to grow. 

INFORMATION SESSION #1 QUESTIONS

Updated 23 April 2020

29. Does the whole delivery team have to have experience with delivering Pre-Accelerator programs? The key personnel absolutely must have experience in developing and providing programs that have supported early-stage technology startups to launch and grow, exemplified by experience in delivering Pre-Accelerator or accelerator programs. 

28. Does demonstrated experience in program delivery have to be in technology-based startups? Yes. We want to work with people who have demonstrable experience in supporting technology-based startups and in particular, very early startups to grow.

27. Is it worth noting that we have experience participating in Pre-Accelerator programs sponsored by LaunchVic already? Only if you also have experience delivering such a program. We are looking for a delivery team with a strong experience in delivering these types of programs. 

26. Can we put in multiple applications for this round? You are welcome to submit more than one application however; we strongly recommend you focus on one outstanding application that clearly demonstrates your program and what you’re hoping to achieve. It is highly unlikely we would support multiple applications from the one organisation.

25. Can we submit a direct application, but also be included as a delivery partner for a separate program? Yes, however you need to make sure that those applications are really strong and if successful, you have capacity to deliver.

24. Given the likely online delivery of programs during COVID, would an application for a Victorian subset of a national cohort be suitable? LaunchVic is funded by the Victorian State Government to support Victorians. To be eligible, the proposed program must primarily support Victorian Startup Entrepreneurs.

23. Are University and research institute collaborations welcomed? Yes. However, the delivery team must have proven experience in supporting early-stage technology startups to launch and grow.

22. What are the expectations around MVPs for hardware startups? We understand MVPs can take years to build. It is not expected that every startup graduating from a program to have a complete MVP. We are more interested in understanding how you as a Pre-Accelerator program are proposing to help those startups to be as successful as possible.

21. At what stage do you expect the ideal start up to be at? We expect that participants (Startup Entrepreneurs) going through these programs to be at a very early i.e. ideation stage. They may have an idea for a technology-based Startup and are seeking to launch and register their new Company via ASIC in the State of Victoria.
Note: Examples of technology include software / app, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, advanced manufacturing & robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, augmented / virtual reality, 3D printing, advanced materials, genomics & life sciences (including biotech & medtech) and autonomous vehicles.

20. In regard to diversity and inclusion are there certain priority cohorts for this grant round (e.g. entrepreneurs with disabilities, Indigenous entrepreneurs)? No, we’re not looking for a particular cohort representing diversity and inclusion through this grant round. We do want to see all applications have a focus on diversity and inclusion and make sure that that is part of the way that people are thinking about their programs.

19. To what extent do you value the sustainability of the program beyond the 2 year delivery period? LaunchVic wants to invest in organisations that will look to become sustainable on its own in the future, however we understand that we are in unusual times. We expect to discuss sustainability with shortlisted applications at the Virtual Pitch day.

18. Regarding outcomes, what are the key metrics? Applicants are required to outline how many Startup Entrepreneurs will be supported by the program and any other outcomes of the Program in the application.

17. Are regionally focused programs favourable? Programs based in a regional setting, or programs supporting Startup Entrepreneurs in the regions are encouraged to apply. Additional funding may be allocated to support programs supporting regional Startup Entrepreneurs. 
 
16. Is there an expectation around the duration of each Pre-Accelerator program? The length of the contract with the successful applicant to deliver the Pre-Accelerator Program will be for a minimum of 2 years. LaunchVic has not specified a minimum number of, or maximum program length of each Pre-Accelerator cohort. However, you are required to justify the length of the program and the assessment panel will review this with the overall quality of the program.

15. Is LaunchVic looking for single sector focussed programs or multiple sectors as well in one program? LaunchVic does not require the Pre-Accelerator program to address a specific sector or topic. Should you wish to focus on a specific vertical, please specify this in the Overview in your application.

14. Is this grant more focussed on the education side of startups or other aspects like prototyping / validating? The Pre-Accelerator program should be an educational program designed for early stage technology-based startups. The specific topics and content you plan to teach should be included in your program overview. 

13. What is the ideal post Pre-Accelerator outcome from LaunchVic’s perspective? We expect the programs funded to:

  • Support Startup Entrepreneurs by helping them bring their technology focused startup idea to life and create a MVP; 
  • Increase the the pipeline of future startups being created across Victoria; and 
  • Increase the pipeline of quality startups entering Accelerator programs in Victoria.

12. Will there be further assistance from LaunchVic for the successful applicants beyond this grant timeline? While LaunchVic has provided some additional funding in the past for high-performing programs, you need to assume that further funding will not be available.

11. Could you please clarify what kind of costs are acceptable under operational expenses? Operational costs include event costs, staff salaries, rent, insurance, accounting and legal costs, marketing and promotion costs.

10. How much do you expect us to fund startups and should that be managed within the $250k grant amount, or will you be providing additional funding to support startups? LaunchVic does not provide funding support directly to startups, and we do not expect you to through this grant round. Funding provided is for operational costs, which does not cover granting funds to startups. Should you wish this to form part of your program, the funding amount is up to your discretion.

9. May we include program evaluation costs in the application? You can. However, it should be noted that LaunchVic conducts its own evaluations of each program, so we would not want to see a huge amount allocated to evaluating the program in your budget. 

8. Is there an expectation that the content of the proposed program is already in existence, or can the grant cover content creation?  We would be comfortable for the grant to cover educational material production. However, we are looking for people that have proven experience, and therefore, we would expect that there would be a very large knowledge base and potentially content already in existence. We want these programs to be opened before the end of 2020 so if much of this grant is focused on developing the program, it probably won't be as attractive as a program that is ready to hit the ground running and has got all that information.

7. If we have conducted previous research that creates a foundation and background to our bid, for example with regard to industry interest, do you want these attached or can we just refer to them? You can supply links to research to support your application. Please ensure your application is clear, concise and sharp.

6. Would we be precluded from applying if we’ve received previous grant funding? No. However, this application must demonstrate what new or additional programming it would be required for.

5. Who can we contact if we have further questions? Contact grants@launchvic.org.

4. In the case of co-funding, are you looking for cash or also substantial in-kind contributions? What if we can only get committed funding for the first year at this point? Cash and/or in-kind contributions are not mandatory but will be viewed favourably.

3. Would you favour applications for programs that could launch with a smaller amount of money - eg. $50 - $100K? We are seeking quality applications and expect that each application can clearly justify the funding amount it is requesting.

2. What is LaunchVic’s position on financial contributions from program participants? LaunchVic recognises that at times charging a fee may enhance the programs sustainability path, and participant commitment, and LaunchVic has funded programs that do charge participation fees. Through the application process LaunchVic would want to understand how much the program fee is, why the program fee is required and the commercial model behind it.

1. Will it improve our chances if we can go live sooner rather than later? Not necessarily. We want programs to launch before the end of 2020. We are looking for high quality applications and do not expect all programs to be ready to launch immediately, but would expect your timeline to be well articulated and justified

APPLICATION QUESTIONS 

14. If I submitted or started an application prior to 14 April, do I have to submit another one? If you have already made a submission, or are in the process of doing so, you will need to revise your application form based on the revised guidelines to be eligible. Contact the LaunchVic grants team at grants@launchvic.org if you are unsure.  

13. Does the program need to focus on startups addressing Coronavirus (COVID-19)? LaunchVic does not require the Pre-Accelerator program to address a specific sector or topic. Should you wish to focus on a specific vertical, please specify this in the Overview of your application. 

12. What if Coronavirus (COVID-19) Stage 3 restrictions remain in place up to and for the duration of our proposed program timeline? LaunchVic is asking for applicants to outline delivery models for Stage 3 restrictions, Stage 2-1 restrictions, and for ‘Business as Usual’ conditions to mitigate any potential disruption from the current lockdown restrictions.

11. Can an Accelerator apply with a proposal for a Pre-Accelerator program? Yes.

10. I’m not too sure if my program fits the LaunchVic definition of a Pre-Accelerator program, can I still apply? LaunchVic defines a Pre-Accelerator as a program targeted at Startup Entrepreneurs who have an idea for a technology startup and want to establish a business and develop an MVP. The program runs for a designated period of time, and participants ‘graduate’ from the program having followed a set methodology. A pre-accelerator program can provide a pathway to an Accelerator program. If you are still unsure, please contact grants@launchvic.org.

9. Can this grant help subsidies an existing Pre-Accelerator Program? Yes. However, LaunchVic will want to understand why, if the program is already running successfully, it would require additional funding. The applicant will have to demonstrate why the funding is required and how additional funding from LaunchVic will make a difference.  

8. What is LaunchVic’s position on financial contributions from program participants (startup entrepreneurs)? LaunchVic recognises that at times charging a fee may enhance the programs sustainability path and participant commitment. LaunchVic has funded programs in the past that do charge participation fees. Through the application process, LaunchVic would want to understand how much the program fee is, why the program fee is required and the commercial model behind it.

7. Are applications from programs run by education institutions (TAFE or Universities) eligible? Yes, but applicants must demonstrate strong startup education delivery experience.

5. When are you looking for the program to commence once funded? We would expect applications for the Pre-Accelerator Program to be opened before the end of 2020 or sooner.

4. What is the timeline for start and delivery of the successful program? LaunchVic is looking to announce successful recipients in July 2020. Applications for programs are expected to open before the end of 2020 and run for a minimum of 2 years. LaunchVic generally funds programs that run for 2-3 years.

3. Regarding the budget, can LaunchVic funds be used for events? Grant funds can be used for Operating Costs, which include event costs, staff salaries, rent, insurance, accounting and legal costs, marketing and promotion costs.

2. Can applications request more than the $250,000? Applications requesting more than $250,000 are not eligible.

1. What information will be required of the team members and their credentials and backgrounds? Applicants are required to provide details on the key personnel (program management and delivery team members etc.) who will be involved in the program and outline their roles and relevant experience, including experience delivering similar programs. The exact requirements can be found in the Guidelines and online application form.

APPLICANT & PARTNER CONTRIBUTIONS QUESTIONS

4. Does the cash/in-kind contributions by the applicant need to add up to a similar ‘value’ as being requested? No. LaunchVic is not mandating a level of cash or in-kind contributions. LaunchVic is very much in favour of higher levels of contributions however, applicant contributions are not mandatory.

3. Is there an advantage in providing matched funding? Does the lead applicant need to have matched funding? Cash and/or in-kind contributions are not mandatory  but will be viewed favourably.

2. Does it mean that if there is no cash contribution then you shouldn’t apply? LaunchVic is not mandating cash contributions, the mandatory contribution can be in cash or in-kind. However, LaunchVic is very much in favour of cash contributions by the lead applicant which shows commitment to the program.

1. Are there restrictions on what type of partner organisations can provide contributions? Contributions are welcome from a variety of partners and institutions, which can include government, commercial or other parties, who support the proposed project. 

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION QUESTIONS

7. Can I have a phone conversation or meet with a LaunchVic team member to ask a few questions about the program and discuss my proposal? LaunchVic is not offering calls or meetings for applicants under this grant program based on our probity policy – operating under a fair and transparent process for all applicants. However, if anything is unclear in the program guidelines or you are unsure if you are eligible to apply please contact us via email grants@launchvic.org We generally respond to emails within 48 hours during the working week.

6. How many applications will be funded? LaunchVic expects to make available at least $750,000 to fund applications. Additional funding may be made available to support regionally based programs. The total amount funded will depend on the number of quality of applications received.

5. How many applicants will be shortlisted? LaunchVic expects to shortlist 6-8 applicants to proceed to Pitch Day but it will ultimately depend on the number and quality of applications.

4. Who are the main decision makers in the selection process? LaunchVic has an assessment process, in which applications are evaluated against the Key Assessment Criteria by an assessment panel. The assessment panel consists of LaunchVic Staff and one representative from the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. There is also a sub-committee of the LaunchVic Board. LaunchVic may also appoint external members from the startup community to be part of the assessment process. Check the Guidelines for all details regarding the assessment process.

3. What are the requirements for grant recipients around reporting back to LaunchVic and accountability in program delivery and outcomes? Recipients are governed by contractual milestones which are typically quarterly and are based on individual recipient metrics. LaunchVic encourages you to view a sample contract before submitting an application. 

2. Will you contract with two organisations? No. We will only contract with one organisation, the lead applicant.

1. When will I know if my application is successful? We aim to notify applicants if they are successful and unsuccessful by 27 May 2020. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to Stage 2 of the application process which includes Due Diligence and the delivery of a virtual Pitch. Please refer to the Timings on the website for the most up to date information.   

GENERAL QUESTIONS

3. Do you fund Startups? LaunchVic invests in organisations (service providers) that will deliver quality educational, acceleration, incubation, mentoring, and other programs to support Victorian startups. We do not fund startups directly through our grant programs. The programs we support through Grant Rounds provide support through education, mentoring etc to Startups.

2. What is a startup ecosystem? The startup ecosystem is made up of founders, investors, startup teams, community organisations, corporates and government. Working together, we can collectively create a pipeline of successfully scaling startups that contribute to jobs and Gross Domestic Product.

1. How do you define a Startup? We know startups mean many different things to different people, but it is important to have a shared understanding of who the funded organisation will support through their acceleration program. For the purposes of this grant round, our definition of a startup is a technology-based business with high impact potential that uses innovation and/or addresses scalable markets.