Startup community rallies behind Startup Muster after funding loss

Elizabeth Barry 12 February 2019 NEWS

lost and found

The future of Australia's only national startup ecosystem survey is uncertain after losing its government funding.

Startup Muster co-founder Murray Hurps announced this week that the national survey of Australia's startup ecosystem had lost its main funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The survey has been running since 2013 and has served as a comprehensive annual profile and data set of Australia's startup ecosystem. According to Hurps, without funding from the Department, the survey will not be able to continue.

"Australia has a small startup ecosystem, spread across a very large area, with a very small audience of interested parties willing to pay for data," said Hurps. "After five years of trying to find different sources, I'm more convinced than ever that an effort like Startup Muster is not possible in Australia without government support."

Since the announcement, Australia's startup community has thrown their support behind Startup Muster on social media, both in replies on Twitter and LinkedIn and using the hashtag #savemuster.

Hurps said he has been overwhelmed by the number of people that have reached out to him or commented publicly. Some replies on LinkedIn, including from Westpac Bank's head of innovation Kate Cooper, inquired how much needed to be raised to keep the survey going.

"Startup Muster collects and publishes data on the Australian startup ecosystem to show the progress, challenges and opportunities, in order to demonstrate and accelerate impact," said Hurps.

"Good data is needed for good decisions, and in government alone Startup Muster has been used by 46 different Australian government departments to help inform their decisions."

Startup Muster was initially funded by Google, which "asked for nothing in return for three years, but recognised the public good that our work provided," Hurps said on LinkedIn. Since then, the survey has primarily been funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science with additional support from UTS, MYOB and Atlassian.

Hurps said on LinkedIn the Department has offered $50,000 to Startup Muster in order to "procure data" and has also offered to pitch the survey to other departments.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Department does not provide baseline funding to Startup Muster.

"The department has engaged Startup Muster three times since 2016, mostly for the purchase of data and has been in regular conversation with Startup Muster about departmental funding constraints."

The spokesperson said that the startup sector has changed dramatically in the last three years and that there are many sources of startup information it draws on to stay up to date with developments.

"[This includes] emerging trends, state and city-based reports, angel investment and venture capital reports, accelerators and incubators, and international comparisons to name a few. The Department continues to investigate its data requirements to evaluate existing initiatives and to support the design of future policies and programs."

Hurps encouraged those that have used the data to share it using the hashtag #savemuster. In order to produce the Startup Muster 2019 report, it will need to secure additional funding by April 2019.

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