Australian ‘inQ’ and Indian ‘WE Hub’ launch women-led tech start-ups market access pathways

inQ and We Hub will host women-led Indian and Australian start-ups in cyber and critical technologies.

Sydney-based inQ Innovation Global in partnership with WE HUB, an initiative of the Government of Telangana state in India has launched a Market Access and Business Pathways Program for Women-led technology businesses.

This new initiative is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under its $12.7 million Australia-India Bi-lateral Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership (AICCTP). Under this grant program, the Australian government recognises that “India and Australia have a key role to play in contributing to the global development of critical and emerging technologies.”

inQ Innovation Global and WE HUB was selected in the 2nd round of the AICCTP Grant Program for their project on practical collaboration on cyber and critical technology issues.

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inQ’s Co-Founder and CEO Irfan Malik (Image source: LinkedIn)

inQ Innovation which was set up in 2017 offers incubators for start-ups, co-working spaces for early-stage innovative companies, and acts as a launch pad for activities in the start-up ecosystem. On starting this initiative for women-led technology businesses, inQ’s Co-Founder and CEO Irfan Malik told The Australia Today:

“A global innovation exchange program will be integral to building an ongoing bilateral start-up-scale-up exchange program to support and enrich the start-up ecosystem for Women Entrepreneurs in Cyberspace and Critical Technology across the two nations.”

The program launch saw a stellar line-up of speakers from India & Australia including, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Industries & Commerce (I&C) & Information Technology (IT) Departments, Govt. of Telangana, Ms Sarah Kirlew, Consul General of Australia, South India, Ms Natasha Morris on behalf of Dr Melanie Broder, Director, Australian Govt. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Cyber Affairs AICCTP Program Director, Ms. Jacqui Nelson, CEO, Dekko Secure, Ms. Deepthi Ravula, CEO, WE HUB, Govt. of Telangana, Dr Ramanan Ramanathan, Former (First) Mission Director Atal Innovation Mission, Mr. Amit Chaubey, Chair – Australian Information Security Association (AISA)-NSW. 

Further, Malik feels that the signing of the historic Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) will help accelerate women-led technology business scale to global markets.

“This will increase the participation of women entrepreneurs in the areas of cyber and critical technologies.”

Deepthi Ravula is CEO of WE HUB a government of Telangana initiative.  

Ms Ravula said, “For over a decade, start-ups, especially women entrepreneurs in tech, have expressed a lack of opportunities and financial support to optimally scale up their businesses globally.”

Deepthi Ravula, CEO, WE HUB

“What differentiates the AICCTP Market Access and Business Pathways start-up-scale-up exchange program in partnership with inQ Innovation, is that we will holistically address the big tech hurdles and challenges faced by women-led tech businesses, not just by mentoring them but also supporting them with the required financial impetus to launch and accelerate their businesses,” 

Ms Ravula added.

The new initiative will host six women-led Indian start-ups and six women-led Australian start-ups foraying in the following areas:

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  • Cybersecurity and Critical Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Quantum Computing;
  • Next Generation Telecommunications (5G & 6G);
  • Internet of Things (IoT);
  • Synthetic biology (SynBio);
  • Genomics & Genetic Engineering;
  • Low Emission Alternative Fuels;
  • Autonomous Vehicles, Drones, Swarming and Collaborative Robotics; and
  • Big Data.
Sarah Kirlew, Consul General of Australia, South India

Mr Malik says that throughout the exchange program shortlisted startups would have the ecosystem to access Australia-India collaborations, access to investors, business advisory support, mentors, market readiness assessment, and potential opportunities to pilot and showcase in February 2023.

The program will also aim to support the launch of these 6 companies each across the bi-lateral markets and with an option to provide further Soft-landing support in the respective markets for 3 months beyond the program to ensure impactful business outcomes.

Applications for Expression of Interest from women-led startups opened on the 1st of August 2022 and Applications Close on the 1st of September 2022,