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Aussie tech hub wins ‘Top Incubator in the World’

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Charlie Gunningham

Sydney-based Cicada Innovations has beaten all-comers from Silicon Valley and the entire world to win “Top Incubator”…

Deep technology “super incubator”, Cicada Innovations, has taken out the top gong at an awards ceremony in Dallas, USA, being named “Top Incubator in the World 2018” by global peak industry association for entrepreneurship programs, the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).

Aussie tech hub wins 'Top Incubator in the World'
From left: Kirstie Chadwick (inBIA President) with Britt Hartnett (Cicada Programs Manager) and Jamie Coughlin (inBIA Chair) on stage in Dallas last weekend.

Finalists were selected from over 2,200 InBIA member incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship centers from across the globe, with Cicada Innovations being the only Australian in the final running.

Applicants were ranked across economic and social impact-based metrics, such as the number of startup entrants and successful exits, jobs created, patents filed, new products and services launched, investment dollars received, value and impact of companies created, depth of collaboration, and much more.

To rank globally on such broad and rigorous metrics required proving a focus on the industries of the future, including taking an innovative, holistic, long-term, and program-driven approach to supporting and growing startups.

“Our primary point of difference at Cicada is our program-driven leadership in deep technologies,” said Cicada Innovations CEO Petra Andrén. “These science-based innovations create solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today, such as food security, climate change, and an aging population.

“They also need longer time to market, and greater access to domain expertise and STEM talent to scale. This is where Cicada’s shareholder universities – USYD, ANU, UTS, UNSW – and its ecosystem of industry partners and local and overseas investors come into play.

“Once residing inside Cicada, we ‘incubate’ these businesses through access to specialised infrastructure such as labs, hardware spaces, and cleanrooms. They also receive tailored business support services such as mentorship programs from alumni founder entrepreneurs and domain experts offering free assistance on such matters as legal or IP requirements, networking events, easy access to talent in the form of PhD placement programs, access to highly specialized capabilities from our University shareholders,  and much more.”

Aussie tech hub wins 'Top Incubator in the World'
CEO Petra Andrén (second from left) with the Cicada Innovations team

Cicada Innovations is the only incubator in Australia to be classified as a “super hub” by InBIA, who defines this as one that blends “several models of entrepreneurial growth into a single location, supporting technology entrepreneurs with a wide range of critical services” throughout their entrepreneurial journey until graduation.

This also creates the all-important pay-it-forward culture that only works in a hyper-connected cluster where collaboration thrives.

“Innovation is doing things differently and doing them better.” said Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s Chief Scientist, “Cicada is an innovator amongst incubators, doing it differently through their programs to attract the best commercialisable ideas, and doing it better by using alumni and industry experts to provide business, legal and financial acumen to the founders to support their validated scientific ideas.”

“In my role as Chair of Innovation and Science Australia, I have been privileged to participate in Cicada’s Nobel Awards events in 2016 and 2017.” Chairman of Innovation and Science Australia Bill Ferris AC said, ” CICADA’s focus on incubating a portfolio of deep science innovators has delivered outstanding results.  I join others in congratulating Petra and her dedicated team and wish them well as a finalist for the ‘Top Technology  Incubator in the World’ award.”

The InBIA awards were held at The Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, Texas at InBIA’s 32nd International Conference on Business Incubation running 21-25 April 2018.

Cicada Innovations was also shortlisted in the smaller categories of “Top Technology Incubator in the World” and “Top Super Incubator in the World” awards, and also recently also won InBIA’s “February 2018 Technology Incubator of the Month” prior to this event.

Looks like Cicada is a tech hub to follow, and like their insect namesake, can lay multiple eggs (…and be very noisy at nighttime?)


About Cicada Innovations

Founded in 2000 by four Australian universities – UTS, USYD, UNSW, and ANU – Cicada Innovations ( has unprecedented access to academic and international networks, deep technologists, and state and federal governments. Its 70+ start-ups and scale-ups are creating world-changing, highly proprietary offerings that sit in a completely different class to those being produced by the average Australian accelerator.

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Picture of Charlie Gunningham

Charlie Gunningham

Former co-founder, GM, CEO Business News and Accelerating Commercialisation adviser. Charlie has spent 20+ years in Perth's startup scene, as founder, mentor, adviser, writer and investor. There's nothing he likes more than helping early stage tech startups ... and drinking coffee, shiraz or playing in a blues band. Email Charlie here.
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