Sydney financial technology start-up hub Stone & Chalk opened its doors for the first time tonight, with 41 businesses selected to take up residence within the not-for-profit incubator seeking to become the fintech heart of Asia.
The start-ups will be given subsidised office space - at 50 Bridge St in the Sydney CBD - by the same financial institutions they are seeking to disrupt.
The Stone & Chalk hub will offer the new businesses a place to collaborate with mentors from established financial sector players, technology giants, universities and government organisations, as well as access to capital for growth.
The NSW government is backing the effort, which is also being funded by Australia's biggest banks and financial institutions, including Westpac, ANZ Bank, Macquarie, Suncorp, AMP, HSBC and IAG - all whom are foundation corporate partners.
Outside the banking space, Woolworths, American Express, Amazon, Intel, Optus, Oracle, KPMG and Veda have also lent their support and funds to the initiative.
Stone & Chalk's partners have contributed more than $2 million to build the hub and subsidise the office rent for tenants in its first year of operation.
The incubator is expected to become self-sufficient in its second or third year as it develops income streams from events, mentorship and accelerator programs.
Stone & Chalk is being headed by former Australian Army captain and the co-founder of Barclay Bank's accelerator program Alex Scandurra, and chaired by former AMP chief Craig Dunn.
More than 350 start-ups applied to be part of the incubator's first intake.
Stone & Chalk was originally scheduled to move into an office in the Dexus building at 45 Clarence St, but demand meant it would have outgrown the premises before it opened its doors.
The site at 50 Bridge St offers 2300 square metres of space and a full capacity of 200 seats, compared to the 150 available at 45 Clarence St.
The 41 start-ups accepted into the hub employ around 120 people, and were selected following an "intense" six-month process to find the best new Australian fintech businesses.
They cover a wide range of industries and technologies, from predictive data analytics to consumer applications and crypto-currencies.
The entities can pick from a number of membership options, starting from $50 for a 'drop-in' which provides 9am-6pm access for the day, a hot desk and use of a meeting room; to $780 per month for secure office suites, which includes 24/7 access to the office and meeting room, event space and lounge area, secure lockers and printing facilities, and shower/changing room.
"From the outset our aim has been to attract the highest quality fintech startups in Australia, co-locate them under one roof, and support fast tracking their growth to ultimately help them go global," Scandurra said in a statement.
"We have been inspired by the talent and diversity of the startups who have applied, and the potential they have to transform Australia’s multi-billion dollar financial services sector.
"And today is just the start, as we continue to welcome more Stone & Chalkers over the coming months and fill around 200 seats by the end of the year."