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uSpark launches new partner program focused on supporting startups

uSpark has launched a new partner program to offer Australian startups the opportunity to fast track their products to market.

The program, titled Destination Start-Up, sees uSpark serving in the role of technology development partner, closing the gap between a founder's vision for their product, and their ability to launch and scale it.

The program's focus

uSpark states the program is essentially focused on giving founders access to the right technical skills at the right time.

This is of particular benefit to non-technical founders who may have difficulty attracting backers due to the generally risk averse early-stage investment environment in Australia, the company states.

Start-ups can enter the Destination Start-Up Partner Program through a variety of gates depending on the maturity of their product.

Unlike other accelerators, uSpark does not intend to deliver educational programs to participants. Its focus will be on collaborating to develop robust products and bring them to market, the company states.

Providing access to experts

uSpark offers an internal team, along with industry friends and government contacts, to position and guide new businesses through various innovation and development stages.

In November 2020, uSpark received an Expert-in-Residence grant from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources under the Incubator Support Initiative.

The grant enabled uSpark to fund the placement of Dr. Marcus Powe, an established consultant with deep local and global experience in innovation and entrepreneurship, as its Expert-in-Residence.

In this role, Dr. Powe will mentor startups in the Destination Start-Up Partner Program during 2021.

Dr. Powe previously worked as an advisor and mentor to several accelerator programs, including those associated with the City of Melbourne, Latrobe University, RMIT University and the Wade Institute.

Encouraging ongoing innovation

uSpark has so far focused on managing internal innovation at Unico Computer Systems, its parent company.

Now, the accelerator will be turning its attention to the startup ecosystem.

Unico managing director John Rowland says, “Unico is committed to supporting Australian startups which is one of the reasons we set up uSpark.

“Although Unico is a successful IT services company that has been in business over 30 years, we began as a startup and know just how hard that can be.

"We want to enable Australian startups to become technically mature a lot faster than they usually can on their own.

"We want to help bridge the resourcing divide between a start-ups technical capabilities and the quality of their ideas.

"This is a win-win for the start-ups we partner with as well as for us I believe that sharing ideas and resources is the best way to encourage new business. Startups will benefit from our deep technical knowledge and we will benefit from their innovative spirit.”

In closing Rowland added, "Building a starteup can be challenging, but it shouldn't be impossible. I am only too aware that many potential founders are discouraged from participating in innovation because they are denied access to resources, and that this is sometimes due to who they are. I want to change that.

"uSpark is a holistic organisation with a positive and inclusive culture. I believe that diversity is necessary to creating business success, and so our doors are open to everyone. In 2022 we also hope to offer some special programs to support disadvantaged founders."

The deadline for applications to uSpark's Destination Start-Up Partner Program is 28 February 2021.