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GSK invests to support female technology entrepreneurs

GSK Australia announced today that it will support BlueChilli’s ‘SheStarts’ – a national accelerator program and campaign to turbocharge female leadership in the startup economy.

SheStarts presents a huge opportunity for female entrepreneurs - offering ten women $100k each in pre-seed capital and a spot in the SheStarts accelerator to help make their startup ideas a reality.

GSK General Manager, Pharmaceuticals, Anne Belcher said: “Digital technology is changing the face of healthcare at a rapid rate.  We are seeing the introduction of electronic health records, wearable technology is making us more conscious of our exercise levels and changing the way we communicate with each other.  It is important that men and women contribute to this change equally to ensure we generate the greatest benefits for society.”

GSK is committed to driving digital innovation in the healthcare sector, not just through R&D but also by developing new business ideas and processes. Partnering with BlueChilli ‘SheStarts’ will bring this commitment to life and facilitate even more innovative thinking.

GSK Consumer Healthcare General Manager, Elizabeth Reynolds said: “This partnership reflects our focus on digital innovation. It’s a great opportunity to share knowledge between sectors and build capabilities. We look forward to working with the finalists during the accelerator process.”

SheStarts Director, BlueChilli Head of Diversity and Impact Nicola Hazell, said the program aims to change the face of the startup economy.

“Women make up more than 50 per cent of our population. Yet in the startup ecosystem - where the most innovative, high potential businesses of the future are being created - women remain grossly under-represented,” Ms Hazell said.

“In Australia, reports indicate women represent between 14 per cent and 24 per cent of startup founders, and when you look at those attracting investment, the stats are as low as 4 per cent. While the data may be somewhat patchy, the message is consistent - women are missing out.

“In order to drive the economic results Australia wants and harness the value of diverse startup teams, we need to boost female leadership and back the ideas of women entrepreneurs with the funding and tech support to get them off the ground.”

A national talent search was conducted to find the best ideas from women across the country, to solve major global challenges and tap into disruptive market opportunities. The top 20 ideas were selected to take part in a rapid validation bootcamp in Sydney, as the founders prepare to pitch for a spot in the SheStarts program.

A documentary web-series will kick off in January 2017 and capture the founders’ journeys, as part of a multi-media campaign to inspire women and girls across the country to consider a future in tech and entrepreneurship. It will follow the startup founders from selection and initial bootcamp, through to the high stakes pitch event and into the SheStarts accelerator as they build and grow their businesses. The series will go behind the curtains to show the realities of the challenges female entrepreneurs face, touching on major issues such as gendered expectations for caring responsibilities, unconscious bias, conscious bias and the gender gap in financial security and investment.  At the end of the accelerator program, the women will travel to Silicon Valley to learn about the US investment market and build new relationships, before returning to Australia to share their stories in communities across the country.

“SheStarts is the start of something big - a massive collaborative effort to address the gender gap, by championing the role of women in tech, in leadership and in business,” Ms Hazell said.

“We’ve been inspired by the enthusiasm of all the key players across the corporate and startup sectors, coming together to make this huge collective impact. By working together, we can move the needle and light a path for women and girls to join the startup economy.”

Follow their journey at


Nicola Hazell Bernadette Murdoch
BlueChilli GSK 
+61 467 783 421 +61 449 950 745

Additional notes

The BlueChilli “SheStarts” program means ten women selected will each receive:

  • $100k pre-seed capital
  • Placement in the SheStarts accelerator program, which will run from January to June 2017 and culminate in an immersion experience in Silicon Valley including visits to leading tech companies such as Google and introductions to angel investors
  • A world-class team of startup advisors and mentors, guiding them through the startup journey
  • Access to in-house product managers, developers and designers to help non-technical founders build high-quality tech products
  • Space in the BlueChilli incubators in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne
  • Access to leading corporate partners such as GSK offering specialist insights and ready-made opportunities for customer testing and distribution at launch
  • Introductions & presentations to investors and venture capital partners when raising growth capital

GlaxoSmithKline - is a global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company. Since 1886 we have delivered the highest quality medicines, vaccines and over-the-counter healthcare products to Australians while investing in local research and providing skilled jobs. For further information please visit

GSK has two manufacturing facilities in Australia. Pharmaceutical products are manufactured in Boronia on the outskirts of Melbourne. It is one of GSK’s largest sterile facilities globally and includes two Relenza lines and innovative blow-fill-seal technology.

The GSK site at Ermington, in north-western Sydney, manufactures consumer healthcare products.