Eight WA startups make Pitch@Palace national finals

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All the Pitch@Palace contestants

At least sixteen WA startup founders are breathing a little easier today, after Murdoch University hosted Perth’s first Pitch@Palace On Tour event with HRH The Duke of York…

The Pitch@Palace is a global pitching event series founded by HRH The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) in 2014 that focuses on producing ‘serendipitous’ moments where startups can benefit from the collective networks of audience members (for a refresher, click here).

In this year’s Australian program, eight startups from events in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and the Gold Coast, plus two wildcards, will be selected to participate in a national bootcamp and final, before our collective best and brightest head to St James’s Palace for Pitch@Palace Global 3.0 in December.

The Duke of York was in fine form at his Pitch@Palace event

This was the first time the event came to Perth, with the Pitch@Palace making it to Australia for the first time last year, but only over east.

Sixteen WA startups took the next step on their journey on Friday evening, delivering a sharply honed three-minute pitch, with the looming threat of being blown off stage by a bugler (yes, really) if they went over time. The Petty Officer on the bugler quickly became the hit of the show, having to blast out 2 or 3 times.

Each team was then asked one final question to help the judges and audience make their decision.

At the conclusion of the pitches, the audience were invited to vote for their top three startups through the Pitch@Palace app, to help a panel of judges from across the Perth startup scene make their decision. In the final results, the judges and audience had almost complete agreement – 7 of the top 8 as voted by the judges agreed with the top 8 of the audience.

The main event

After a Welcome to Country by Olman Walley and a brief introduction by Murdoch University Provost Professor Romy Lawson, it was time for the main man to take to the stage to kick things off.

“Pitch[@Palace] is about the audience, not about the entrepreneurs,” the Duke told the crowd of startups, investors, business leaders and academics.

“You may find that rather a strange comment from somebody who is supporting entrepreneurs, but if the audience don’t get involved and behind what these entrepreneurs are doing, we’re not going to have the effect we’d like to have.

“If we all work together, then we are going to be able to make a material difference to these businesses, and it makes no difference whether those businesses are going to get to Brisbane or not.”

Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen also spoke at the event, reminding the audience what it means to be an entrepreneur.

“The term entrepreneur can conjure up images of multi-millionaires. That really doesn’t represent the reality of what an entrepreneurial journey is about,” she said.

“Their journey is driven by [a] thirst for discovery, by passion for solving the problem they have identified, by determination and sheer resilience. They navigate through setbacks, late nights, financial challenges and uncertainty.

“Every team you will see today represents resolve and passion to create an impact for a better future.”

Murdoch University Pro Vice Chancellor Health Sciences, Professor Jeremy Nicholson delivered the event’s keynote address while the judges were deliberating, speaking on the value data can bring to medicine around the globe.

The eight winning startups will head to Brisbane for a bootcamp and Australian final this coming week, where the nation’s top three teams will be selected to head to London.

And the WA winners are…

Arility, who have created an augmented reality platform to help the delivery of community safety education to school children. The team have already partnered with WA’s Road Safety Commission, but are looking to expand their network both in Australia, and overseas.

Biotome are commercialising research that can detect stomach cancer earlier and more cost-effectively through a simple blood test. Founder Samuel Lundin and his team came to Pitch@Palace hoping to find some new investors.

Chironix, who are working on ways to use wearables to improve communication with workers in the field, including by giving access to experts from hundreds of kilometres away, or by seeing instructions overlaid on their vision. They came looking for mentors who can help them reach into Asia.

Geo Risk Systems are developing a real-time location-based risk assessment tool that can also help identify long-term trends and issues within an organisation. They are hoping to connect with people in health and safety, insurance and operations management.

KIWA are the team that have developed ‘smart socks’ that, in addition to monitoring wearer’s vital signs, can detect falls and activate an immediate response. They’d be grateful for any help finding seed investment or distribution partners.

Maker Kids Club runs an online program that helps 11-year-old students launch their own micro-businesses, to equip them with the entrepreneurial skills they need to make the most of Industry 4.0. They’re looking for connections to become involved with even more schools.

OncoRes Medical are hoping their high-resolution image tool for surgeons that can help more accurately identify and remove tumors will reduce the need for repeat surgeries. They are on the lookout for people who can help build brand and consumer trust, as well as investors.

Telemed, founded by Pete Tually in 2005 brings together nuclear medicine and telehealth to provide a more comprehensive health service to rural communities that includes readily accessible specialists. Pete is looking for a hand with finding a way to meet with Babylon Health in the UK.

Unfortunately, Accelerating Australia, Axonium, Buildsort, Flaktest Gaming, Mud & Mask, People Science, Telethon Kids Institute and Tokn didn’t make it past the Perth round. However, given that there were over 40 applications, and these 16 were chosen to pitch, everyone came away with something valuable from the experience.

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Feature image: This year’s pitchers with HRH The Duke of York  (Source: Murdoch University).

Gallery images: Keane Bourke/Dockside Media.