The University of New South Wales announced 8 winners in the inaugural UNSW Founders Awards this week, recognising founders, startups and mentors for their outstanding contribution to innovation and the startup ecosystem.
The presentation at The Ivy Ballroom attracted more than 300 guests, including Dr Wong Fong Fui, whose donation enabled the establishment of the UNSW Founders flagship 10x Accelerator.
Harrison.ai cofounder Dimitry Tran delivered the keynote speech, acknowledging that among his key investors – the medtech startup has raised around $160,o00 in VC funding – many have strong ongoing ties to UNSW.
David Burt UNSW Founders Director of Entrepreneurship said that as the university’s startup ecosystem continued to thrive, it was time to honour those making outstanding contributions to its success.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for UNSW, after being named as Australia’s most Entrepreneurial University, to recognise the UNSW born startups, founders and mentors hard work, commitment and excellence,” he said.
“The award winners are further proof of the vital role entrepreneurship will play in delivering benefits for the Australian economy, now and in the future.”
Ahead of the awards, UNSW invested $320,000 in Seed funding, alongside mentoring and tailored support to 18 startups in health, synthetic biology and other industries, as part of the annual 10x Demo Day.
But said this year’s cohort is the most successful in UNSW’s history, with Psylo, recently raising $5 million as part of its seed round mid-program.
“In just five years, 80 accelerator portfolio companies have raised over $89 million and have a total value of $350 million,” Burt said.
” One of these companies Forage, who help fortune 500 companies train students before they’ve even hired them – took out UNSW Founders Startup of the Year Award.”
Indonesian born cofounder Pasha Raya began his entrepreneurial journey as a student at UNSW. While Raya is now globally successful, he finds the time year on year to return to UNSW’s Michael Crouch Innovation Centre to educate, coach and mentor emerging founders.
“We were lucky enough when we co-founded Forage in its early days to join the Founders 10x program,” Raya, Forage’s CTO, said.
“And it was in that program that we really gained the sense that we could be a big impactful business and dream a bit larger. We’ve been able to raise over $50 million from some of Silicon Valley and the world’s best venture capitalists, and we’re really starting to see some of the seeds we planted in the social impact really start to take fruit,”
The full list of winners are:
Startup Of the Year: Forage, a virtual job simulation platform for talent produced by and for the world’s top companies.
Mentor Of The Year: Leah Fricke, for supporting founders to be strong so they can be compassionate, talented so they can be humble, passionate so they can be rational, and focused so they can be successful.
Research Making Impact Award: LLEAF, which created a material that can modify film to increase food productivity
Positive Impact Award: 4eyes Vision, which is making glasses on the spot in underserved communities, to make improved eyesight accessible to all.
Health Innovation Award, presented in partnership with The George Institute of Global Health: CardioBionic – a technology platform offering multiple portable devices for heart failure.
The People’s Choice Award: JDoodle, an online software programming platform for learning, teaching, recruiting and hosting.
A full list of finalists in the UNSW Founders Awards is here.
* Startup Daily was a sponsor of the UNSW Founders Awards