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If you can handle the split personality, born-again ilab offers up to $20,000 to help business innovation get from Queensland to the world

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ilab is back and it wants to help Queensland entrepreneurs succeed with their business ventures. With shiny new offices and with a “new and improved” label, ilab says it will continue to focus on technology-driven enterprises and will provide conventional office space and mentoring.

ilab appears slightly ambiguous about its identity, already complicated by a change in its parent organisation. It was started by the Queensland government in 2000. In 2009 it became part of UniQuest Pty, the innovation sales arm of the University of Queensland.

However, ilab continues to receive funding from the Queensland government. Currently, it refers to itself as a business incubator in press releases, as well as a business accelerator in its website.

Will the real ilab please step forward?

ilab is at pains to differentiate between traditional incubators that earn money from services they provide to start-ups, and accelerators that reverse the flow by investing cash and services in the enterprises they support. Judging by the four new programs on offer at ilab, it does both:

  1. Germinate – this three month program is for jumpstarting a technology business concept. ilab makes up to $20,000 available in financing, plus individual training, workshops, networking, PR and preparation for possible entry into the next phase, Accelerate.
  2. Accelerate – puts the emphasis on “haste, rather than hope” to acquire customers and build a business. There is an investment from ilab of up to $50,000 (yet to be confirmed) over a six month period, exposure to potential investors and preparation for possible entry into the Incubate or Exit programs below.
  3. Incubate – for growing and established businesses that want to expand locally, nationally or internationally. There is no cash aid on offer here, although ilab hints at access to members of its Accelerate Venture Fund.
  4. “Exit” – where the slogan is “get acquired or get profitable”. Here the program is condensed into a shorter one month pre-departure, plus one-month post-departure timeframe.

Enterprises that are fortunate enough to benefit from rolling through the multiple programs will have to adapt to the changing styles of business acceleration to business incubation.

How has ilab done so far?

ilab has a solid track record, having incubated over 100 start-up enterprises and helped them to raise a total capital of more than $70 million. This, in turn, has created around 400 technology jobs.

In addition to this, parent UniQuest and its other start-ups have raised over $450 million since 2000, so there seems to be a good probability that, split personality aside, ilab and family know what they’re doing.

Interested parties can check out the new ilab offices at Long Pocket, near Indooroopilly in Queensland or find further information from the ilab website or by emailing ilab’s new program director, Leigh Angus. Applications for the Germinate program must be made by May 18, 2012.

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