Two South Australian startups have pitched their way to the top five in a US-based competition to gain access to a globally renowned business accelerator program with a shared prize pool of more than $3 million.

The Bridge to MassChallenge Australia finalists will now compete for a place in one of MassChallenge’s five world accelerators in the United States, Mexico, Switzerland, Israel or England.

South Australia’s James Stewart from kick.it and Selena Woodward from Edufolios, along with three other Australian startups, including Stop Rotor, Conweigh and Microba, are finalists following the five-day bootcamp at the MassChallenge headquarters in Boston held last week.

MassChallenge is a United States-based not-for-profit startup accelerator program providing support to the highest-impact and highest-potential start-ups and entrepreneurs. To date, 1,211 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $1.8 billion in funding, generated over $700 million in revenue, and created over 60,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In Australia, Bridge to MassChallenge is a nationwide startup competition to identify the best start-ups. In November 2016, ten startups were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants following a national competition and three state-based bootcamp programs in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Four of the top 10 start-ups to travel to Boston were from South Australia.

The State Government invested AU$280,000 to become a diamond founding partner in the Australian Bridge to MassChallenge program. Other founding partners include the Commonwealth Government, the Victorian and New South Wales governments, Microsoft Australia, and Monash University.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said it was great to see two ambitious South Australian start-ups make the top five in the Bridge to MassChallenge bootcamp in Boston.

“We are punching above our weight in South Australia, with half of the bootcamp participants drawn from South Australian start-up companies – proof that our state is fostering innovative, young entrepreneurial creatives who have the potential to deliver great economic gains,” he said.

“Through our support for innovation, the State Government is working hard to ensure we create the jobs and industries of tomorrow.”

kick.It founder James Stewart said, “I am a Kiwi who has lived in South Australia for the past 5 years and I am a huge advocate for our amazing state. The support I’ve received to get Kick.it off the ground has been incredible.

“Progressing to the next stage will open new doors and opportunities for Kick.it, particularly in the USA with support from the MassChallenge team.

“For now, we’ll conduct further development work and testing of our Kick.it app. We’ll also develop the Kick.it research platform and collaborate with researchers, including the Basil Hetzel Institute, the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at SAHMRI and Flinders University.”

Edufolios founder Selena Woodward said, “South Australia has a strong start-up ecosystem and I’m honoured to have the opportunity to demonstrate that strength in such a global forum.

“Cities like Boston, London, Switzerland, Israel and Mexico are now getting the opportunity to see the innovation and strength that is coming from our State and it is wonderful to be a part of that.

“At Edufolios, we are excited for the future. We are planning to employ two new team members within the next six months. We are also creating more opportunities for the teachers who subscribe to our platform to grow in confidence and skills.”

Visit kick.it’s vlog on MassChallenge.