A NSW Government website

Four new programs to support startup diversity


Budding entrepreneurs will have the chance to take their startup ideas to the next level with applications now open for four pre-accelerator programs aimed at supporting founders from diverse backgrounds, and increasing the number of social impact startups entering the market.

The programs will support under-represented groups in the innovation ecosystem, including women and people with diverse backgrounds, and will be delivered by Startmate, I2N (University of Newcastle), iAccelerate (University of Wollongong) and UNSW Founders (University of NSW).

Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology Anoulack Chanthivong said the programs will also focus on concepts and individuals that want to drive positive change and deliver social impact.

“Startups can hold the key to solving some of society’s biggest problems and we want to grow the capabilities of entrepreneurs who want to make a difference for the community,” Mr Chanthivong said.

“We also want to build a more diverse innovation ecosystem, which is why these pre-accelerators include opportunities for female founders to take part, along with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and people with a disability.

“Pre-accelerators are designed for people at the beginning of the startup journey, where they can further develop their concepts and learn more about the markets in which they operate. On completion of the pre-accelerator, participants may then join an accelerator and receive further training and mentoring to launch their own venture.”

Around 60 participants will take part in the pre-accelerators, running across Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, where individuals who have a startup concept but are unsure how to progress, will be provided with bespoke coaching and mentoring to further develop their ideas.

Wollongong mum Jessica Clark completed a pre-accelerator program with iAccelerate, and went onto launch eco startup Earth Worthy, which sells ethically sourced blankets and sustainable jute bags.

“Getting started as a solo entrepreneur can be a bit daunting, but through the pre-accelerator I was able to connect with peers and like-minded people at different stages of their business journey,” Ms Clark said.

“I felt I was part of a community that supported each other, and through the guidance of mentors and experts in their respective fields, I was able to expand my business networks and ensure I had access to trusted resources.”

The pre-accelerator providers will manage the application process for participants, with the programs to be delivered over the coming months and into next year.  

For more information about the four pre-accelerator programs and to apply visit https://www.investment.nsw.gov.au/grants-and-rebates/pre-accelerator-program


Pre-accelerator provider



iAccelerate (University of Wollongong)External Link

iAccelerate will deliver a 12-week program for 10-15 entrepreneurs looking to deliver social impact.

Post completion of the pre-accelerator, participants will be offered a nine-month residency with access to University of Wollongong’s facilities.

University of Wollongong

I2N (University of Newcastle)External Link

I2N will deliver a 10-week program for 10-15 participants.

The pre-accelerator is aimed at female founders to boost the number of female-led businesses in the regional ecosystem.

University of Newcastle

StartmateExternal Link

Startmate will deliver a 10-week program for 20+ ambitious founders. Participants will be mentored by industry experts in the Startmate community with a social impact focus.

Tech Central

UNSW Founders (University of NSW)External Link

UNSW Founders will deliver a 10-week program, called Impact-X, for 10 participants.

The pre-accelerator is aimed at founders looking to address an underrepresented healthcare issue, a global unmet medical need, or a healthcare solution for marginalised groups.


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