Velrada backs $10m tech fund

04/11/2019 - 10:55

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Perth-based IT consulting firm Velrada has established a technology incubator that will invest $10 million over three years to commercialise new products and software solutions.

Velrada backs $10m tech fund
Dan Hookham (left) and Robert Evans have already started working with technology startups. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Perth-based IT consulting firm Velrada has established a technology incubator that will invest $10 million over three years to commercialise new products and software solutions.

To be known as Level19, the incubator will evaluate opportunities emerging from Velrada’s own solutions business, as well as those developed with industry partners and startups.

Velrada is jointly funding the project with private investors.

Velrada chief executive and Level19 chief investment officer Robert Evans said the focus would be on ‘as-a-service’ products and solutions that had global reach.

Level19 is already working with a startup developing augmented reality technology applied to underground mine planning.

“It creates a means to collaborate looking at a 3D model without being in the same place,” Mr Evans said.

“The difference with this concept is that you can edit and update back into the core system.”

It is also partnering with an accounting firm to trial artificial intelligence solutions that predict the timing of invoice payments and therefore improve clients’ cash flow.

Level19 chief innovation officer Dan Hookham said he had already started reaching out to the startup community.

“We go out and find SMEs, evaluate them for mass-market appeal in an area we can support, add technologically to develop a more valuable product and help them take that to market,” Mr Hookham told Business News.

Mr Evans said Velrada brought a number of benefits to Level19, including its technology expertise, links to big corporates in Australia and connections to Microsoft.

Velrada has grown to have 170 staff across Australia along with an office in London and is 100 per cent focused on Microsoft solutions.

“The difference with us is that we have some real technology grunt and industry reach and credibility with a tier one platform that we can leverage,” Mr Evans said.

“That creates channels for us and creates scale.”

Velrada’s relationship with Microsoft has enabled it to join two partner advisory councils, covering AI and big data along with Dynamics 365 business apps.

“These advisory councils we sit in give us a pretty good view of the product roadmap and gaps and opportunities,” Mr Evans said.

He said the establishment of Level19 was also driven by what he called a seismic shift in the IT sector.

“The way the IT industry tended to work was that big vendors created products and distributed that through resellers,” Mr Evans told Business News.

“With the SaaS cloud world, that’s all been turned on its head.

“They want their partners to grow their intellectual property and drive consumption of those cloud services and SaaS layers.”

Mr Hookham said apps and solutions that were accredited by Microsoft would be sold through its global sales force.

While Level19 will work with startups, it will also be used to commercialise ideas developed within Velrada, particularly those using Microsoft’s Power apps.

“The focus is on creating relatively straightforward, low ticket value but very high market potential widgets, not big complicated, long-term things,” Mr Evans said.

Velrada is tuned to do big transformation projects whereas a lot of this is more nimble, agile, quick results.”

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