KPMG to grow startups with Artesian partnership

Co-investment fund to invest in 1000 startups over five years

An alliance between KPMG and Artesian Venture Partners aims to connect corporates with Australian startups.

The partnership “will allow the engagement of corporates in the startup ecosystem as customers, partners or potential acquirers and will help startups and technology become a substantial industry, as we move away from a reliance on mining and resources,” said Artesian chief operating officer, Tim Heasley.

The agreement opens a fresh source of capital for startups in Australia, where funding remains a challenge compared to other major markets. It sets up a co-investment fund with a goal of investing in 1000 startups in the next five years.

KPMG partners at the firm and corporate partners including blue chip investors will have the option to invest in the fund; KPMG may invest directly.

Artesian is a venture capital investment company that already manages co-investment funds for Sydney Angels, BlueChilli, University of Queensland (ilab), University of Wollongong (iAccelerate) and the University of Newcastle (Slingshot).

The VC firm chose KPMG, after a competitive process, to identify and introduce corporates and other partners to startups, as well as to collect and analyse data about the startup scene.

KPMG joins a trend of enterprises turning to startups for innovation.

“Proactively engaging with Australia’s startup ecosystem is critical to our innovation strategy,” said KPMG head of innovation, Martin Sheppard.

“It will expose us and our clients to new growth opportunities; provide early insights into emerging and disruptive technologies, and help us and our clients stay ahead of the curve.”

KPMG and Artesian plan to jointly commercialise data accumulated through the venture about the Australian startup ecosystem.

This will include the sectors in which different startups are operating, successful verticals, founder demographics and data about funding raised and where it came from, an Artesian spokesperson said.

“Although there is a lot of buzz around startups, including strong corporate interest, little actual research has been done on the sector,” said Sheppard.

“Our data has the potential to play an important role in unlocking entrepreneurial potential in Australia. This alliance is an incredibly exciting opportunity.”

Heasley said the partnership will push the Australian startup scene forward.

“To date the Australian technology sector has been finding its feet and growing rapidly. Where we are today is a testament to local entrepreneurs and their ability and determination to punch above their weight,” he said.

“But, it’s time for the startup industry to mature, to operate with a new level of professionalism without losing its edge. We need to mobilise, professionalise, and build a cohesive structure around the industry to take it to the next level.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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