Governor of Victoria Startup Awards

The Governor of Victoria Startup Awards celebrate the outstanding contribution of Victoria’s $10.5 billion startup sector and recognise entrepreneurs, leaders and investors across the ecosystem.

The winners of the inaugural awards ceremony were commended at Government House by the Minister for Innovation, Medical Research, and the Digital Economy, Jaala Pulford; and Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria under the following five categories:

- Best Newcomer for firms less than three years old;

- Startup of the Year for those that have had a minimum Series A in the last four years;

- Scaleup of the Year for firms less than ten years old;

- Investor of the Year featuring a People’s Choice and Expert Panel’s Choice; and

- Ecosystem Hero of the Year featuring a People’s Choice and Expert Panel’s Choice.

Press Release

Ecosystem Hero of the Year

People's Choice

Winner

Aiman Hamdouna

Aiman received the greatest number of votes when a crowd-sourced list of 13 finalists for this category went out to a public vote. From creating a new community for international entrepreneurs to founding an innovation hub, Aiman’s tireless work and thought leadership has bridged Victoria’s startup ecosystem to the world. He is a master connector between communities, governments, startups and investors, and he integrates the value of diversity and inclusion into everything he does.

Expert's Choice

Winner

Jonathan Jeffries

JJ was the expert panel’s pick from the list of finalists. He was nominated by the Victorian startup community for his work stablishing the Re-Trained platform to help connect people displaced during the pandemic. The platform has helped 171 people re-enter the workforce and secure employment in the Victorian startup ecosystem with support from the Victorian government and RMIT Online.

Investor of the Year

People's Choice & Expert's Choice

Winners

Aprill Allen & Matt Allen

Aprill and Matt Allen have taken out both our expert’s choice and people’s choice categories, receiving the highest number of votes from the Victorian startup community. The nominations highlighted their passion for the ecosystem and how well trusted and highly regarded they are by the community. The nominations recognised their innovative work in providing startup founders with an alternative method of financing that puts founders first. Their work beyond Tractor Ventures in being members on numerous boards, taking part in industry talks and educational sessions and mentoring the community was also recognised.

Regional Ecosystem Hero of the Year

Posthumous

Winner

Peter Dostis

This year, the Regional Ecosystem Hero of the year is awarded posthumously to Peter Dostis, Co-founder and CEO of Runway Geelong, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Victoria’s regional and rural startup ecosystem. His legacy continues to support regional and rural founders through Runway’s programs, mentorship, collaborations, and networks.

Best Newcomer

Firms less than three years old

winner

Currus Biologics

Currus Biologics is a privately held company spun out of research from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The award recognises their ground-breaking work developing the next generation of CAR-T cell therapies to treat solid cancers. Founded only 12 months ago, Currus has already raised $10M Series A funding from the medical Research Commercialisation Fund and Uniseed, and commenced development of their proprietary technology for clinical application.

Scaleup of the Year

Startups less than ten years old, but greater than three years old

Winner

Linktree

Founded in 2016 and the first tool in market of its kind, Linktree helps users to share more, sell more, curate more and grow more. Validating the success of the platform and its astronomical growth over the last five years, Linktree has secured US$55.7M funding to date, closing a US$45M Series B round in March 2021. The company has grown from 12 employees (pre-COVID) to a remote workforce of 170+, with employees based in Australia, the US, and worldwide. Despite more than 90% of its users being based outside of Australia, Linktree is committed to supporting Victoria’s tech ecosystem and nurturing diverse talent from its HQ in Collingwood. They remain invested in creating top tech and product roles right here while driving D&I initiatives that support greater diversity within our ecosystem.

Startup of the Year

Firms that have had a minimum Series A in the last four years

Winner

Amber Electric

Amber Electric are disrupting the energy sector and have a goal of shifting Australia to 100% renewables. In the last twelve months, Amber Electric raised both a Series A (Dec 2020) and a Series B (May 2021), grew their team from around 20 to over 50, automated and controlled hundreds of smart devices to use power at cheaper and greener times, and onboarded thousands of customers.

Winner

Seer Medical

Founded in 2017, Seer is Australia’s largest provider of epilepsy diagnostic services, serving more patients than all Australia’s hospitals combined. Its technology has monitored 10,000+ Australians who would have required 50,000+ days in Australian hospitals, diverting ~95-bed years from the Australian hospital system to reduce patient wait times dramatically. With 35% employment growth in 2021, all Seer’s design and manufacturing occur onsite in its Melbourne headquarters, and Seer is taking Victorian expertise to the global stage.

Governor of Victoria Startup Awards 2021 Winners

The Governor of Victoria Startup Awards 2021 Winners

Independent Industry Expert Panel

Kate Dinon, Managing Director, Character + Distinction

Con Frantzeskos, CEO, Penso

Paul Guerra, CEO, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

David Swan, Technology Editor, The Australian

Rachel Yang, Partner, Giant Leap

Note: Rachel Yang did not participate in deliberation for the Investor of the Year award.

Voting Process

The awards for Best Newcomer, Startup of the Year and Scaleup of the Year categories were selected from a shortlist of the top 30 Victorian startups based on criteria that include: money raised, age of the firm and job creation or number of employees.

This data came from LaunchVic’s startup database findingstartups.launchvic.org, powered by Dealroom.

Shortlisted applicants were then invited to provide a written submission assessed by an external expert panel.

How was People's Choice Awards Decided?

In December we went out to the public to nominate individuals who have made a difference in the startup ecosystem in 2021. A panel of independent experts whittled down 83 incredible submissions from the public to a shortlist of 13 finalists, which was then put to a public vote closing on December 20.

FAQs

  • The Governor of Victoria Startup Awards are supported by The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, and will be presented at Government House in early 2022. Initiated by the Victorian Government, the awards celebrate the outstanding contribution to the fast-growing sector.

  • Should the expert panel have any involvement with the nominees, a conflict of interest will be declared and the person will be removed from deliberation. Rachel Yang appears on our expert panel, and was also nominated for Investor of the Year by the public. Rachel did not participate in deliberation for the Investor of the Year award.

  • You will be advised by LaunchVic if you have been nominated/shortlisted for a specific category at which you can communicate your wish to either be involved or not at this time.

  • The Best Newcomer, Startup of the Year and Scaleup of the Year categories will be selected using quantitative data from Dealroom’s findingstartups.launchvic.org’s database rather than a nomination process. However you are welcome to nominate yourself or someone you believe is worthy for the Investor of the Year and Ecosystem Hero of the Year. The Top nominations for each of these categories will then be put to the public to vote on. An expert panel will also select an Ecosystem Hero of the Year to be announced following the People’s Choice.

  • Yes, as long as you are nominating a Victorian-based startup, scaleup, investor, or community builder.

  • You can only vote once for the Investor of the Year and the Ecosystem hero of the year.

  • For the Investor of the Year and Ecosystem Hero of the Year awards, LaunchVic will invite nominations from the public. A shortlist of the finalists for each category will be selected by an independent expert industry panel, who will then be released to the public to vote on.

  • The Best Newcomer, Startup of the Year and Scaleup of the Year categories will be selected using quantitative data from LaunchVic’s startup database, findingstartups.launchvic.org, powered by Dealroom, rather than a nomination process. For the Investor of the Year and Ecosystem Hero of the Year categories, LaunchVic will invite nominations from the public and an independent expert industry panel will shortlist finalists from all of the submitted nominations for public vote.

  • There is no 'prize' (monetary or in-kind), however the winner receives 'acknowledgment' of the highest order from the Governor of Victoria for being #1 ranked in front of their colleagues and peers.

  • The Expert Panel includes Rachel Yang, Partner, Giant Leap; David Swan, Technology Editor, The Australian; Con Frantzeskos, CEO, Penso; Kate Dinon, Managing Director, Character + Distinction; Paul Guerra, CEO, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  • LaunchVic as Victoria’s startup agency is coordinating the Awards Process, using both quantitative (Dealroom) and qualitative (Victorian expert panel) metrics to evaluate nominations.

  • We anticipate these awards will become a regular, annual event hosted by the Governor of Victoria.