A decade of innovation underpins a new generation of trailblazers

EducationDaily
EducationDaily

A time-saving painting solution taking the ‘pain’ out of ‘painting’ and a game-changing technology turning carbon into battery-grade graphite are among the transformative initiatives being developed into innovative businesses through Curtin University’s Accelerate program in 2024.

Celebrating a decade of innovation, the Western Australian-based university’s Accelerate program provides early-stage startups the opportunity to enhance their entrepreneurial skills, connect with investors, and elevate their clever products and services into thriving businesses.

In the 2024 cohort, one stand-out is LID’L Mate, created by Thetford Industries founder and Curtin MBA student, Hannah Thetford.

It’s an innovative painting solution that offers a resealable, stackable paint pot lid with a measured spout and integrated mixer – a combination that aims to save time and money for private and commercial painters, as well as reducing harmful waste entering the environment.

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“I’m incredibly excited that I have received a place in the Accelerate program. I’ve been working hard to refine my original concept and develop new ones as I continue this amazing learning journey of being the founder of my own company,” Ms Thetford says.

Problem-solving innovations

Also participating in the program this year is Curtin research academic and material scientist Dr Jason Fogg who has co-developed RapidGraphite, a pioneering technology that transforms carbon into battery-grade graphite within seconds, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

“With RapidGraphite’s proprietary technology, we can bring a world-first solution to graphite manufacturers to help them turn their waste carbon into battery-grade graphite, overcoming technical bottlenecks that exist today,” Dr Fogg says.

“Our team is excited about Accelerate. We see it as an opportunity to bring RapidGraphite out of the university and into the world.”

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Alongside Curtin Accelerate, Curtin University delivers several other entrepreneur development programs including the Curtinnovation Awards, Curtin Ignition, West Tech Fest, and Kickstart.

A fast-track to business-building

The 13 start-ups participating in the program will be led by the Chair of Curtin’s Commercialisation Advisory board, Larry Lopez, a global expert in venture funding and building high growth companies.

“Curtin Accelerate continues to be a driving force in the WA ecosystem, enabling innovative ventures to improve their ability to access capital, develop important commercial connections and gain clarity on their path to market. With more than 90 businesses participating in the program over the past decade, the program continues to propel Curtin connected start-ups to the next level,” Mr Lopez says.

“This year, local investors will mentor the cohort, to enable a faster path to seed investment for the selected Accelerate teams. During the program, the cohort will learn from successful entrepreneurs and investors such as Rob Newman, Dr Marcus Tan, and Curtin’s Entrepreneur in Residence Marvin Liao.”

Diverse projects in the 2024 Accelerate cohort include:

  • Tempo: A marketplace connecting health providers and gig economy health professionals to fill shifts and contracts in aged care
  • ANI Research: An intuitive web platform empowering small business owners to conduct their own market research
  • TECHT: A real-time corrosion monitoring and protection system for gold mining processing tanks
  • Health and Spice: Producers of ‘tigernut milk’, a plant-based milk alternative
  • Popup-ing: An online marketplace connecting businesses and landlords for pop-up spaces
  • DASH: A fully integrated web platform simplifying life admin for busy professionals
  • COMPAS-S: A digital suicide screening tool using predictive algorithms to reduce suicidal behaviour
  • Brightstride: ‘Bright Bonds’ – a financing instrument to fund climate change programs through local governments
  • Spectrum Wear: Everyday street wear with inbuilt tactile experiences to allow people with neurodivergent or sensory issues to self-regulate
  • GridTec: An Innovative electrical grid solution that tackles the overwhelming demand of building and renovating dwellings across Australia
  • CamPLUS: A student-focused mobile app and advanced learning management system that integrates all channels that service a student’s time at university.

The Curtin Accelerate program offers each of the participating projects $5,000 in equity-free funding and runs from February to April 2024.

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