The Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) will officially launch its HeadStartAccelerator Program on 30 June in Geelong. HeadStart is one of ASTN’s initiatives that leverages off the opportunity that Australia has to develop a truly globally competitive sports technologies industry.
 
The Program aims to incubate and invest in up to 40 new sports technology and information technology start-up businesses over the next 4 years. It builds on the solid foundation that the ASTN and ICT Geelong (the Geelong Region ICT Network) have already laid to grow a successful technology start-up economy in the region. Some of these activities have included investment pitching competitions, technology entrepreneurship forums, access to commercialisation experts and investors.
 
Located in Geelong, the establishment of HeadStart was supported by funding from Enterprise Geelong (part of the City of Greater Geelong) and the Department of Employment (formerly DEEWR).  The ASTN estimates that HeadStart can create at least 75 new high value jobs in Geelong over 5 years.
 
HeadStart helps develop new robust businesses in Geelong through an ‘accelerator’ model based on highly successful systems established in the USA and Europe. It is the first Accelerator Program in Australia focused on the development, growth and investment in sports technology start-ups. The Program gives these start-ups unique access to the sports industry as well as connections to local, national and international network of investors, mentors and advisors. It brings start-ups to Geelong with the prospect of retaining these businesses within the Region.
 
A non-investment intake of 7 start-ups recently commenced the Program. The intake includes start-ups involved in wearable technologies, online sports platforms, sporting goods as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Three of the start-ups will go to Silicon Valley and undertake a world-class executive entrepreneurship and venture capital program through the University of California (Berkeley).
 
HeadStart recently finalised its investment memorandum and has plans to raise $2 million into an investment fund over the coming 6 month period.  This fund will cater for investments of $20,000-$50,000 in up to 40 start-ups over a 4 year period. Generally this will be for a 10-15% equity stake in each start-up selected in the HeadStart Program.