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New partnership connects Curtin researchers with start-up ‘angels’

Media release

Innovation Central Perth (ICP) based at Curtin University has partnered with Perth Angels and South West Angels to connect early career researchers with a community of start-up investors in Western Australia.

Man looking at whiteboard

Commencing in 2021, the new partnership will connect PhD students and postdoctoral researchers with WA networks looking to invest in emerging entrepreneurs, founders and business owners.

As part of the project, Curtin researchers will have access to two not-for-profit investor networks – South West Angels which helps start-ups in regional WA, and Perth Angels, which connects metropolitan entrepreneurs – to help evaluate pitches made by emerging start-ups.

Curtin University IP Commercialisation Director Mr Rohan McDougall said the new collaboration will give early career researchers the opportunity to contribute their technical expertise and provide research support to investors.

“As part of the partnership, Curtin will identify a pool of talented and diverse researchers who will be able to bolster their experience by working directly alongside Perth Angels and South West Angels investors,” Mr McDougall said.

“Students and researchers will have the opportunity to attend meetings where budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and then apply their technical expertise, to help angel investors determine whether the proposals are viable and competitive. Fellows will conduct research and offer their findings to potential investors, which can be used in assessing business plans and concepts.

“This innovative program will enhance the engagement between universities and industry to support job-ready graduates with the skills needed to meet tomorrow’s workforce. Curtin and ICP are delighted to collaborate on this initiative that we hope will add value to both Perth Angels and South West Angels.”

South West Angels Chair Asher Vukelic welcomed the opportunity to partner with ICP on this important project.

“South West Angels are looking forward to having access to research expertise to provide technical insights for future deals, particularly where deep tech is involved and outside the skill set of our members,” Mr Vukelic said.

Chair of the Perth Angels Mr Ian Brown said he looked forward to collaborating with ICP and its researchers.

“The opportunity to collaborate in this initiative not only greatly benefits Perth Angel’s investor members through the support of deep domain knowledge of the talented body of researchers at ICP, but is also a way to improve and spread best practice in early stage investing with researchers for their own growth – a true win-win,” Mr Brown said.

The program will run in collaboration with Washington State University in the U.S, which runs a similar initiative, and will establish a global network of student fellows, who will be able to connect through various virtual experiences to create an entrepreneurial student community.

Woodside Open Innovation Lead Shaun Sadler said Curtin and ICP were key elements of Woodside’s FutureLab innovation network.

“Woodside values innovative thinking and supports the growth and vitality of WA’s innovation ecosystem.  As a foundation member of ICP, we welcome the Angels collaboration. Being able to connect researchers and start-up investors unlocks further potential for sustainable growth in the innovation community,” Mr Sadler said.

The 2021 program is exclusively available to Curtin University students and researchers with the potential to open up to other universities in the future. Participants will receive a $500 incentive to acknowledge and support their efforts.

Further information on how to apply can be found online here.