CTC is excited to announce a memorandum of understanding has been signed with leading Australian incubator, ATP Innovations. To mark the occasion we spoke with ATP Innovations' Director of Strategy and Business Development, Petra Andren.
CTC: ATPI has a very broad focus on innovations across multiple sectors. What are your "sweet spots" or are you agnostic, providing support to entrepreneurs of all kinds?
PETRA: We are a technology incubator and as such we look for disruptive technologies that have a sustainable competitive advantage - often this is achieved through a strong IP position. Our 70 client companies can be divided into 3 rough categories; life sciences (devices, drug and digital health technologies - some clean tech fall into this category as well), hardware (robotics, electronics etc.) and IT, web and mobile.
When we do our due diligence for the incubator we look at the global market opportunity, the technology and the team. The latter is very important as most companies, in our experience that are beyond proof of concept stage, fail due to dysfunctional teams. So back to your question about sweet spots - "cool technologies in combination with motivated, strong and diverse teams"!
CTC: ATPI sends a cohort to California each year. How did this develop, and what has changed about this extension of your program as it has grown?
PETRA: Our business model is quite different from most incubators in that we do not rely on government funding. Our model is one where we take a small equity share in the companies that we select to join the incubator and the rent we charge our clients run close to cost. The upside for us is when there is an exit and we have so far managed 8 successful exits. The equity model means that our efforts are aligned with those of our companies and we are working towards the same goals. Not relying on funding or grants to support the organization also means we can allow ourselves to move fast and try new things, which I think is key to our success. A rather recent initiative is our heavy involvement in accelerator programs.
Whereas the incubator focuses on growing companies where the product market fit has already been established, the accelerator programs focus on early stage ideas that are "boot camped" and validated through extensive contact with customers over a 3-6 months period. These companies are provided with a seed capital injection (between US$25-50K) in return for equity and the program typically culminates in an investor road show.
CTC: Where do your client companies raise capital for their growth? Is it mostly within Australia, or are there a few major markets that have been fruitful for them?
PETRA: This is difficult to answer given we work across so many industries. Generally, seed capital up to Series A is usually raised in Australia whereas later rounds often include overseas investors. US is certainly a market that is of interest simply due to the amount of $ available, the culture and maturity of the VC industry as well as the relationships with Australian VCs. Europe is another market from where VC capital is sometimes attracted in later rounds but it is more relevant for JVs and partnerships than VC money. We increasingly see interest and investments out of Asia - Hong Kong (which I would still look at as a separate market to China) and Singapore have been active for some time but as of late, China is becoming more and more active and interested in our startups.
CTC: How do you view the new MOU with the CTC adding value to your programs and clients?
PETRA: I am very excited about this MOU. We spoke about the Startmate cohort going to the US as part of their program but perhaps more importantly this MOU can benefit our Incubator companies - many looking to expand into the US. Having a partner on the ground like CTC is extremely valuable to us as it means our companies can tap into the services and networks offered by CTC as soon as they touch the ground in California. There is so much we can do together and we have only just started!
CTC: What does ATPI see as the next frontier(s) for tech? Do you see patterns in the companies coming into ATPI for assistance that might support your view into the crystal ball?
PETRA: I have the luxury of looking at new and interesting technologies on a daily basis. At the moment, there are a lot of financial tech companies coming through but also some amazing inventions in the robotics, new energy and medical technologies space. We are running a special program to boost the medtech sector this year so I hope for exciting things in this space!
About ATP Innovations
ATP Innovations partners with technology based startups and entrepreneurs to help them grow, achieve success and find investment through the support of personalised assistance and mentoring. Since 2006, the incubator has supported over 80 businesses helping them raise over $121 million in private investment, $30 million in government grants, sell products across the globe, and for eight, sell their business. Over 130 new products and services are launched by our companies each year. For more information, click here.