Unearthed bridges mine-tech divide

Nick Sas

It started as a good idea - help solve problems in the resources industry. It has now led to Perth's second accelerator for tech start-ups opening its doors.

The brainchild of Justin Strharsky and Zane Prickett, the Unearthed accelerator is set to offer start-ups $70,000 over six months - in return for a 10 per cent equity stake - to develop their mining-focused start-up.

Speaking ahead of its launch this morning, Mr Strharsky said through the help of industry partners they were able to offer the start-up companies "warmth and food" as they developed their idea, as well as mentors in both industries.

"Generally, people in the resources sector think of programmers as folks who sit in their parents' garage playing computer games," Mr Strharsky said.

"And programmers tend to think that the mining industry doesn't have any sexy programs to work on. So it's about bringing together the two industries."

Unearthed has an ambitious funding target of $2 million by 2016, with plans to have up to 12 start-ups by then.

Although it has locked in resources heavyweight Iluka Resources and a handful of other companies, it is yet to bed down other targets. Mr Strharsky said they hoped to have other funding partners early next year.

The duo will also announce this morning an Unearthed start-up weekend event - where tech-focused people try to solve resources industry problems in a weekend - in four cities across Australia.

The first member of the accelerator is Newton Labs, which won the inaugural Unearthed event in May. Co-founder Simon Vincent said the accelerator would help validate their idea and generate industry contacts.