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David Scott
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A three-year, $1 million dollar partnership between Australia Post and the University of Melbourne is set to provide greater opportunities for the next generation of innovators.

The funding will provide for two new places in the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) specific to eCommerce business ideas, as well as an annual scholarship to the Wade Institute for Entrepreneurship.

There will also be specific outreach programs targeting regional and rural areas, women and social entrepreneurs.

The partnership forms part of Australia Post’s $20 million eCommerce capital fund, announced at Carlton Connect’s Lab-14 earlier today.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the University was honoured that Australia Post has chosen the University as its first valued innovation partner in this fund.

“We believe universities don’t just educate our future generations; they are a production line of ideas for new entrepreneurs and new businesses. Harnessing the current mood around Australia’s innovation agenda is important, and this investment will go a long way to ensuring that start-up cultures like those at MAP continue to have a prominent role at the University," Professor Davis said.

“This is an investment in the future of entrepreneurship skills development at the University of Melbourne, and will add to our larger push to expand the innovation eco-system across the University and in this city.”

The Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) is the University’s flagship entrepreneurship program. In 2015, entrepreneurship-related events on campus will attract over 5,000 attendees, in a year in which MAP received over eight applications for every place available.

Sixteen alumni companies from the Accelerator program’s first three years have already raised over $10 million in funding, generated over $5 million in revenue, and created over 120 jobs, with MAP recently ranked as the 13th best University accelerator program in the world.

In announcing the fund, Australia Post Managing Director and Group CEO Ahmed Fahour said the program was intended to have far-reaching impact.

“We will work with our people, our customers, the community and our partners to identify new opportunities and emerging, disruptive eCommerce businesses that we can accelerate,” Mr Fahour said.

“Throughout our 207 years of serving the Australian community we have always innovated in response to social and technology changes. And innovation is essential to remaining relevant to our customers as their behaviour and expectations change,” he said.

Dr Charlie Day, Director of Carlton Connect where MAP is based, said the growing public interest in innovation and entrepreneurship was a pleasing development. “We believe that an ecosystem of entrepreneurship is growing strongly at the University, and partnerships like this reinforce the scale and impact of work we are doing.”