Last call for applications to the 2021 Lift Off Awards, celebrating diversity across the tech ecosystem

YBF Ventures announces the final call for applications and nominations to its third annual Lift Off Awards, celebrating diversity in tech. The awards ceremony will be held on 22 July, just after NAIDOC Week, primarily in the Ballroom at YBF’s headquarters in Melbourne, with a satellite event at YBF Sydney as well as a digital component.

2021 is a big year for the awards as they shift away from being fintech-focused to encompassing a broad range of tech verticals, all highlighting gender and cultural diversity.

The awards will recognise contributions to the entire tech industry:

  • Fintech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Diversity & Inclusion Tech Leader of the Year
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Tech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Legaltech or Regtech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Cybersecurity Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Proptech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Agtech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Healthtech or Medtech Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning Startup or Scaleup of the Year
  • International Tech Startup or Scaleup of the Year

The Lift Off Awards are part of YBF’s ongoing drive for diversity. They were initially launched in 2018 as part of the YBF Fintech Hub, a partnership with the Victorian Government.

2021 sees an exciting line-up of judges that reaches diverse communities across Australia:

Ali Adey

Founder of She Mentors, a mentoring platform for women in business. She is a proud advocate of gender equality and is on a mission to empower those around her to give back and drive change through mentoring.

Cathy Ngo

Entrepreneur, writer, presenter, keynote speaker and thrives at the intersection of tech, comedy and activism. She’s the founder of Keynoteworthy, a challenger speaker agency and social enterprise. The purpose of Keynoteworthy is to solve the problem in finding and booking speakers that reflect the diversity of gender, sexualities, abilities, ethnicity and ultimately, perspectives and ideas that event-goers and sponsors are increasingly looking for. Her vision is to see Keynoteworthy and conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion redundant.

Christopher Croker

Managing Director of Impact Investment Partners and a Luritja man from Central Australia with a vision for sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. He is an experienced strategy advisor with Indigenous economic development, asset management, corporate strategy and infrastructure construction expertise. He has developed an innovative social outcome evaluation tool (the ISER Index) that aligns with the UNSDG to understand and measure the critical benefits of infrastructure investment to Indigenous communities, is the Chair of CASSE Australia and Director and Chair of the Finance and Risk Audit Committee for Desert Knowledge Australia.

Farley Blackman

CEO of YBF and has been the driving force behind taking YBF’s own gender diversity from 10% to 50% since his appointment. He is a business leader with a track record of delivering sustainable results across multiple industries and geographies. During his career, he has held executive positions with BP, GE and Motorola throughout the US, London, Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong and Mexico City.

Genevieve Collins

Genevieve is Chief Executive Partner of leading national law firm Lander & Rogers. As the driver of the firm’s Innovation & Digital Transformation Agenda, she established the firm’s Client iHub for smarter legal service delivery. She also launched Australia’s first dedicated LawTech Hub for legal tech startups, in partnership with YBF, in Melbourne and Sydney. Genevieve is passionate about innovation, law, big data, technology, people analytics, and diversity and inclusion. She has been the leader of many client innovation initiatives, for which her team has been formally recognised through client innovation awards. 

Grace Watkins

Co-founder and CEO of Click Management, which represents some of the top digital gaming talent globally. Click’s roster generates more than one billion views per month, was awarded a 2019 Deloitte Tech Fast 50 ‘Rising Star’ award, and in 2020 Grace was named one of the top digital talent managers globally by Business Insider. Recently, Click have hosted Australia’s largest digital esports tournament, ‘The Showdown Under’ in collaboration with Epic Games, and have been appointed the exclusive service provider of Facebook Gaming in Australia and New Zealand. Click also produces original content, including the fastest growing Australian YouTube channel in 2018, ‘Click’.

Jason Lim

Chief of Staff at YBF and a YBF Board Member. Over his last six years with YBF, he has been an investor and advisor to startups. He is an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, an alumnus of the Melbourne Accelerator Program, and is the host of the five-star rated podcast, People Building Businesses. 

Karen Katz

Director of KK Consulting Melbourne whose byline is ‘helping you hire, nurture and develop amazing humans’. She has been part of the Melbourne technology community for over 20 years and sits on the board of Girls In Tech Australia where she volunteers as the Operations Manager.

Kate Eriksson

Chief Program Officer of YBF; the Director of the YBF Startup Immersion Program; and Founder & Director of healthtech startup, helloEd. Kate has spent over 20 years in leadership roles in Europe, Australia, Asia and the US. She is a former PwC Partner and Head of Disruption, and she previously ran telecommunications giant Ericsson’s innovation centre in Silicon Valley.

Dr Omaru Maruatona

CEO of Aiculus, a Cyber-AI company which specialises in API security, privacy and visibility. Omaru has previously worked with large Australian companies and global companies including Westpac bank, PwC and Computershare as a cybersecurity and artificial intelligence specialist.

Preeti Chaudhary

Based in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh in India, Preeti is a startup mentor, venture partner, speaker and community creator. She is the founder and lead at LinkedIn Local India – running a series of pan-India knowledge and networking events. She presents a diverse range of international, intercultural experience across industries/sectors and cross-functional levels.

Winitha Bonney OAM

Winitha Bonney is Australia’s first and foremost Thought Leader in the advancement of People of Colour and in building anti-fragile cultures of inclusion and allyship. In 2021 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her extensive work in diversity and inclusion. Winitha has over 22 years of experience in executive roles and an incredible amount of unique insights, experiences and expertise to help People of Colour become leaders and successful entrepreneurs, and to support leaders and businesses to create inclusive, connected and engaged organisations and communities.

Yian Ling Tan

As the Startup Program Leader – Asia Pacific for OVHcloud, Yian Ling is responsible for developing, accelerating and executing OVHcloud Startup programs in the Asia Pacific region which helps nurture growing entrepreneurs and ensures the most innovative initiatives are supported as they emerge. Yian Ling has a deep knowledge of enterprise solutions across multiple industries.

Genevieve Collins, Chief Executive Partner of Lander & Rogers and a judge for the 2021 Lift Off Awards said, “Lander & Rogers has supported the Lift Off Awards since its inception. We feel that they are incredibly important for Australia––to lift up and celebrate all individuals and communities within the tech ecosystem. We’re excited about this year’s awards as there is a range of new categories that really mirror Australia’s thriving tech landscape.”

Farley Blackman, CEO of YBF said, “The Lift Off Awards are YBF’s most prominent annual event. It is important for us at YBF and for all leaders in tech within Australia and beyond to highlight and acknowledge the need for diversity. I certainly look forward to a day when we don’t need awards for diversity; when diversity is just natural and part of what we do.”

Diversity is one of YBF’s key pillars. As Australia’s oldest and largest tech and innovation hub, YBF is committed to leading the way when it comes to diversity and inclusion across the country. Under current leadership, YBF has moved the needle on its own gender diversity from 10% in late 2017 to  50% female team members with staff hailing from a variety of backgrounds.

The inaugural Lift Off Awards, which launched in November of 2018, were a stand-out success and have been on a growth trajectory ever since.

Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne who opened the last Lift Off Awards in 2019 said, “The Lift Off Awards are so worthwhile for our startup community and for diversity.”

Judy Anderson, CEO of Startup Victoria was a judge and presented an award at the ceremony in 2019 said, “The Lift Off Awards are important because diversity and inclusion in our startup ecosystem are important.”

Applications are open for individuals, startups and scaleups:

Partners of the 2021 Lift Off Awards include Lander & Rogers, Tyro, OVHcloud, AirTree, Girls in Tech Australia, Impact Investment Partners and Keynoteworthy, which all embody this year’s theme: perseverance.