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One of the world's biggest startup accelerators is opening up in Melbourne

500 Startups founder Dave McClure. Source: Facebook

Silicon Valley’s legendary accelerator program, 500 Startups, is opening up in Melbourne after the Victorian government’s LaunchVic program agreed to tip $2 million into its launch.

The deal will see the organisation get behind at least 40 Australian startups over the next two years, also offering them access to the organisation’s global network and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists. The 500 Melbourne core acceleration program will accept 20-25 startups annually from Australia and the APAC region.

500 Melbourne will also be looking to invest in startups alongside angel and VC investors from the local market, working outside the accelerator program with year-round events from host pitch coaching sessions, to customer acquisition and growth marketing, and local tech investor education programs as part of a new hub for the Australian startup ecosystem.

500 Startups founder Dave McClure said they “had our eye on Australia” for a while after already investing in 20 local startups.

“Partnering with Melbourne and LaunchVic helps us bring a slice of Silicon Valley to Australia through our startup, investor, and corporate programs,” he said.

500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund that launched in 2010 and now has more than $US330 million ($AU428 million) in capital invested in 1,800 technology startups in 60 countries.

In a 500 Startups blogpost announcing the plan over the weekend, the organisation said Australia’s ecosystem “is at an inflection point, with more venture funding available than ever before and government championing an innovation agenda to legitimize and support startups”.

The deal pushes Melbourne’s credentials as the nation’s tech and startup capital, with other global businesses such as Zendesk, Square, Slack and Cognizant basing themselves in the city.

Victoria’s innovation minister Philip Dalidakis said 500 Startups was one of the best accelerator programs in the world.

The money going to 500 Melbourne is part of $4.9 million to startups in round two of LaunchVic’s $60 million funding program.

Dalidakis said the round two grants were matched with cash and in-kind support that will result in a total investment of $11.6 million for Victoria’s startup sector.

Startups can register their interest in the 500 Melbourne program via email: melbourne(at)500startups(dot)com.

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