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LaunchVic terminates 500 Startups partnership following 500 Melbourne lead’s resignation

11 Aug 2017

Australian innovation organisation LaunchVic has terminated its partnership with 500 Startups following the resignation of 500 Melbourne lead Rachael Neumann.

Dr Kate Cornick, LaunchVic CEO says, “Without trusted local leadership, we don’t believe that 500 Startups will be able to build a strong and inclusive culture and the social capital it needs to be able to successfully roll out its accelerator program in Victoria."

Last month, LaunchVic put 500 Startups on notice, requiring 500 Startups to develop a remedial plan that was to include addressing sexual harassment and lack of diversity in the startup ecosystem.

The successful implementation of the remedial plan was required before LaunchVic would give the company the green light to roll out its accelerator in Melbourne.

The measures were put in place as 500 Startups was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal after co-founder Dave McClure was accused of using his influence in the startup ecosystem to make unwanted advances on women.

500 Startups had to apologise to LaunchVic for not sharing its internal investigation into the sexual harassment claims against McClure as he prepared to launch the 500 Melbourne accelerator.

Last month, McClure resigned as the general partner of 500 Startups and stepped down as its CEO.

Cornick says, “While I am deeply disappointed at how this has ended, I feel confident in LaunchVic’s strong course of action over the past month to give 500 Startups an opportunity to show leadership to improve the culture in the startup sector and fix the issues at hand.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve expressed to 500 Startups, that without Rachael Neumann at the helm we don’t believe it will work,” Cornick says.

Growing talent and expertise is a core part of LaunchVic’s strategy and something that will be essential going forward to achieve Victoria’s potential to be a leading startup destination.

Due to the contractual arrangments in place, LaunchVic retains the funds reserved for 500 Startups.

No public funds have been placed at risk.

Cornick said LaunchVic would reinvest 500 Startups’ funding in a world-class accelerator program to build capability and expertise in our local ecosystem.

“Of the grant funding we have allocated to date, 70% has been invested in local home-grown programs and we will continue to invest at a local and a global level to drive outcomes that will position Victoria’s startup ecosystem as a leader,” Cornick says.

“I’d like to thank the Australian startup ecosystem – many of who have publicly advocated for us and given us the space required to make the right decision.”

LaunchVic works in partnership with entrepreneurs, industry, business, the community and our educational institutions to strengthen Victoria’s entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.

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