The Internet of Things needs innovation and fresh ideas to become an everyday reality, but startups need mentoring and funds to bring their ideas to life. To link innovative businesses with the support to see their IoT-related ideas take off, Telstra has backed the startup accelerator muru-D.
The muru-D Program
The name has been taken from the indigenous language Eora, with “muru” meaning “path”, and the “D” representing “digital”. It reflects the kind of businesses that muru-D attracts – uniquely Australian companies on a path to new digital technologies.
muru-D was launched in 2013, and runs programs in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. It also partners with River City Labs in Brisbane and with Spacecubed in Perth. muru-D runs its six-month-long programs throughout the year in these five locations. Each location offers one program a year, and they do not run concurrently.
muru-D in Sydney
Now in its fifth year and running its firth cohort or SYD5 program, muru-D Sydney is located in the Sydney CBD. It runs one program per year kicking off around the end of January. So far, over 40 startups have enjoyed the benefits from the Sydney accelerator program.
Each SYD5 startup gets the following:
- $75k funding in SAFE convertible note
- Co working space
- a global network of mentors, investors and alumni,
- assistance from Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and
- an environment favorable to the development of successful global businesses and training resilient founders.
SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) financing means that “Telstra no longer takes a fixed equity stake in any company at the outset, rather this is determined by the company’s market value after the program.” according to Telstra.
Julie Trell, the global head of muru-D, Sydney said that SYD5 is the most “ambitious” batch, with teams working on the development of vertical landing and takeoff aircraft and using virtual reality to help in neuro rehab therapy. She added that it is important that a team has “a social purpose element, using technology in innovative ways to solve real problems and create solutions for societies today and into the future.”
SYD5 has a cohort of 10 teams and five of them are described below:
- AMSL Aero – developing an autonomous two-seat aircraft that can take off and land vertically. Intended to be a safer, faster and less expensive alternative to helicopters.
- Catalyser – creates software and services that provide customised business solutions for employers to manage and grow their employee giving.
- Kiddsbay – a kid-friendly platform so that they can safely launch his or her online business.
- Neuromersiv – using Virtual Reality to make neuro rehab therapy fun for stroke and brain trauma patients.
- Share with Oscar – an on-demand platform for better utilization of assets by sharing private parking spaces.
The other startups are SkyGrow, vetchat, Cookitoo, iCRM and Life Skills Group.
muru-D in Singapore
In 2015, muru-D expanded its operations to Singapore which has a “fast-developing start-up ecosystem, pro-business policies and access to local capital.”
According to Paul Meyers, Head Of Muru-D, Singapore, they are on their 3rd program with a cohort of 10 teams from Singapore and around Asia. Each startup gets the following:
- A six-month program with SGD $75k seed funding in SAFE convertible note,
- Customized acceleration services,
- Master classes with industry experts,
- Opportunity to network with 17 active alumni companies in the region
- Mentorship by an established global network of experienced tech and startup experts
- Immersive trip to an international startup hub and
- The opportunity to tap into the global network of over 260 alumni.
- Access to a co-working space in Singapore’s central business district.
So far, 17 startups have completed the programs in Singapore.
muru-D in Melbourne
muru-D Melbourne or #MEL 1 is the latest location of the program to be launched. It gains from the experiences, knowledge and network built up from the earlier runs of the programs in the other locations. Each startup also gets almost the same funding and mentorship enjoyed by the other muru-D cohorts. The teams will be based at Telstra’s Gurrowa Lab in Melbourne. They have access to Telstra’s integrated innovation capabilities as well as Telstra’s Open IoT Lab.
The first Melbourne cohort, #MEL 1 has 4 teams chosen over 75 applicants. They are:
- Smart Paddock is a farm management tool designed to remotely monitor livestock’s health and location. The startup aims to modernize the global livestock industry through intelligent data analysis, utilising Internet of Things (IoT) data straight from the pasture.
- Alpha Centauri has developed a smart, solar-powered plant pot, AdaptiGrow that can grow a wide range of plants from seeds. It will be used to support the mission to make possible the cheap and sustainable production of food for all. AdaptiGrow takes care of the plant for the farmer or grower. It “controls nutrient concentrations, water input rate, temperature and pH.”
- Moduware creates power banks and phone cases to extend the life of your smartphone.
- Sofihub is a hardware and AI platform using IoT sensors to learn the standards, identify “abnormal” events in homes for the elderly and automatically trigger an alert.
Australian Returns on Telstra’s Investment
So far, muru-D has invested $4 million in 110 companies in the five locations it runs solely or in partnerships. By operating in five locations and providing co-working places, it is able to really work closely with the various teams who are lucky to be part of the program.
The investments Telstra make into the muru-D program help Telstra benefit through investing in exciting new ideas, but it also benefits Australia as a whole by providing the means and support to give life to ideas that otherwise could be lost.Telstra’s startup accelerator is providing a wide range of assistance to realize its vision “to make the world a better place by developing resilient entrepreneurs who can make an impact.”