UOW alumni receive global recognition for smartphone app
A Wollongong startup founded by a University of Wollongong graduate and former navy weapons engineer is enjoying life in the smart lane after taking out the major prize at Australia’s largest professional startup conference.
It was also seen by those involved in an Advantage Wollongong exhibit at CeBIT, the largest ITC showcase in the southern hemisphere, as another significant step in putting Wollongong on the map as a knowledge services capital.
CriticalArc is a resident of the UOW’s iAccelerate StartPad business incubator and was selected as one of 12 finalists from a field of 100 applicants for SydStart.
Glenn Farrant, Jahmai Lay, Jared Kells and Robert Christie had to impress an elite panel of judges.
Their pitch addressed criteria including: what makes the team likely to win globally, the addressable market, points of difference, traction and why the startup would stay ahead of the pack.
Mr Farrant spoke about CriticalArc’s first product called SafeZone - a mobile alert safety solution for tertiary education campuses which has attracted interest around the globe.
The SafeZone mobile app enables students and staff to communicate with campus security teams using location-based incident alerts and helps security teams coordinate a rapid response.
“Winning the SydStart StartUp Trophy has already enabled us to set up meetings with a number of potential investors,’’ Mr Farrant said.
‘‘This is terrific for us as we are currently raising capital for our international expansion.”
Mr Farrant said being part of iAccelerate StartPad and the mentoring that provided had definitely helped his business.
University of Wollongong innovation and commercial research director Elizabeth Eastland said CriticalArc’s SydStart win came one year to the day since iAccelerate StartPad officially opened.
Ms Eastland said it was evidence of Wollongong’s innovation ecosystem in action.
“One of the advantages of establishing an innovation ecosystem in a regional area is that the whole community gets behind its startups,’’ she said.
“Through iAccelerate, the university has made a commitment to supporting innovation in the region by tapping into the intellectual capital of the university, its students and alumni like Glenn.
‘‘In the case of CriticalArc, the university also became a pilot site for the SafeZone app and is now a commercial customer.”
Words and photos by Greg Ellis. Originally published in the Australian Financial Review/Illawarra Mercury