Meet the creative start-up kings

If you run a creative start-up, you need to know about the Queensland University of Technology’s hub for creative start-ups, Creative Enterprise Australia.

It’s thought to be one of the only facilities of its kind in the country dedicated to early-stage ventures pursuing creative enterprises.

Mark Gustowski is the acting chief executive. He explains CEA is a hybrid facility in that it is an incubator, an accelerator, a co-working space and a venture capital fund.

“We have tech companies that could be here from anywhere between one and five years. They’re going through growth and get access to mentoring programs, workshops and, potentially, funding,” he says.

CEA, which was established a decade ago, runs two accelerator programs, a fashion accelerator and a creative tech accelerator called Collider, which are understood to be Australian firsts.

“Through Collider, we have invested $20,000 each in the current cohort of nine companies. Funding is in exchange for equity, and we run through a 12-week program with the entrepreneur-in-residence with each start-up,” Gustowski says.

“We essentially accelerate the speed at which they get to market. We have around 100 start-up founders on-site here across our co-working space, which is called the Coterie.”

The venture capital fund can invest up to $150,000 in individual start-ups that sit within the creative technical industries.

“We act as a champion of creative tech across Australia,” Gustowski says

Trademark Vision, an image recognition and machine learning start-up working in the legal space, is a good example of one of the enterprises that sit within CEA’s portfolio of businesses.

There is a plethora of different spaces for start-ups, for instance Muru-D, the Telstra accelerator and York Butter Factory, as well as the Sydney Start-up Hub, for which the NSW state government has recently provided $35 million in funding.

There are also other specialist incubators such as River City Labs, which focuses on tech and telcos. But when it comes to creative tech, CEA is at the forefront of supporting businesses in this sector.

“It’s a great organisation to be involved with. We get to work with amazing founders and help them grow their business, which is really exciting,” Gustowski says. “Within creative industry and creative tech, we look at things like virtual reality, augmented reality, digital content creation, design, industrial design, a little bit of robotics, fashion tech, wearables and music tech.”

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