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The GRIFFIN Accelerator Program Reflects on 10 Years

As innovators and entrepreneurs, we’re always looking ahead, eager to foster new ideas and solutions. But it’s also important to pause and reflect occasionally. Over the past decade, the GRIFFIN Accelerator has been a cornerstone for entrepreneurship in Canberra, connecting driven founders with seasoned local mentors. By pairing founders with mentors, providing investment, and pushing them to scale ambitiously, the program has become an integral part of our ecosystem. This year will be the 10th anniversary of the GRIFFIN Accelerator Program. As we gear up for the 11th cohort, what have we learned?

A snapshot of the program

Over the past 10 years GRIFFIN has supported 64 projects, the GRIFFIN Trust has invested over $2M and the companies report valuations totalling over $70M. Each year we measure the number of applications, investments made, companies supported, mentors engaged and progress by alumni. The numbers tell just a small part of the story but help to keep us on track as the years progress. As the Canberra innovation ecosystem evolves, we’re able to be more ambitious with our impact.

Empowering Founders and Cultivating Innovation

Ten years on, our mission to empower founders and cultivate a thriving innovation network remains steadfast. The GRIFFIN Accelerator was born from a desire to nurture the growing wave of innovative startups in Canberra. While some of the details have changed, the focus on mentors helping and investing in promising startups has remained consistent. Several of the mentors have participated in every cohort since 2014, but we’ve also had new people join.

Building a network

Bringing together ambitious founders into one cohort over an intensive period has been instrumental in the culture of the program. This environment creates strong relationships and fosters high performance as founders support each other through challenges, cheer each other’s success and create a network effect. The companies over the years have demonstrated the breadth and diversity of the program, from VR to plant science, to hair products, to printed electronics, GRIFFIN has just about seen innovation in every industry.

The common factor is often the founders’ drive to make an impact and their vision of the potential of their company. It has been a pleasure to see founders go out of their way to support their peers and that support is always returned in kind. Even as some founders have wound up their companies and pursued new ventures, the relationships, learnings and development from the program remain.

GRIFFIN collage

Practical changes in the program

Some topics have been consistent over the years. Conversations about company valuation and how to talk to investors have been a recurring theme, although the details have changed considerably. As have challenges with finding customers, product development delays, R&D tax incentive eligibility, and becoming investment-ready. Developing the right investor pitch has also been a core activity through the years.

Other aspects have evolved over the years. The time commitment for accelerator content has decreased as we’ve become more targeted and efficient with the content. New mentors have brought exciting ideas like the centrality of purpose, or manufacturing expertise. Participants now pitch to non-GRIFFIN investors at the CBRIN investor showcase after the program has finished.

A supportive community is everything

We’re deeply grateful for the support from the innovation community over the years. The dedication of mentors providing time and investment at critical junctures, industry partners offering support and becoming early customers, and the invaluable partnerships with the ACT Government and CBRIN have been critical to the enduring of the program.

What’s next

As GRIFFIN embarks on its second decade, we’re excited to see what the future will bring as new ideas and opportunities emerge. We invite ambitious founders to apply for this years’ cohort before the closing date on Wednesday 10 July 2024, and look forward to supporting more local companies on their journey. We’ve continuously refined our offerings, ensuring they remain relevant and add value in an ever-evolving environment.

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