Australia Post today announced it will invest an initial $20 million in emerging eCommerce businesses and co-locate its accelerator at Lab-14 premises with its first partner, the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).

The investment fund and initial partnership with MAP are part of an ambitious program to support small business and to accelerate eCommerce innovation across Australia.

Australia Post Managing Director & Group CEO Ahmed Fahour said the program will reach all corners of the country, with a particular focus on regional centres, and will leverage the organisation's eCommerce capabilities and network reach.

"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.

"We will use the $20 million capital fund, which with the success I expect could grow to more than $100 million over coming years, to directly invest in great eCommerce businesses with ideas that will improve the lives of our customers.

The three-year, $1 million MAP partnership will be an important element in supporting Australia Post's eCommerce ambitions. The non-exclusive partnership will be the first of many with accelerators around Australia.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the University was honouredthat Australia Post has chosen the University as its first valued innovation partner.

"We believe universitiesdon't just educate our future generations; they are a production line of ideas for newentrepreneursand 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 ofentrepreneurshipskills 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."

Key elements of the three-year million-dollar partnership with MAP include:

  • Two new places for eCommerce businesses in the MAP Startup Accelerator. Like others in the Accelerator, each will receive $20,000 in funding, office space, mentoring and connections to local and international networks.
  • A $20,000 annual scholarship to the Wade Institute for Entrepreneurship.
  • Three specific outreach programs targeting regional & rural areas, women and social entrepreneurs

Mr Fahour said innovation is already at the forefront of Australia Post's transformation into a leading eCommerce business.

"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.

"Through programs like 'GoDigi' which is building our nation's digital literacy, to our Go&Grow Online seminars aimed at regional small business, and our relationships with global partners like eBay and Alibaba, we are encouraging digital engagement and innovation.

"We will soon pilot 'The Hive' in Geelong where we are working with the community to offer meeting spaces, IT support and business coaching to local start-ups and micro-businesses."