July - October '24


Research-led companies will cornerstone the solutions to humanity's greatest problems. Foundry is how Blackbird helps PhD students, ECRs, and established researchers build them.

The Program

Foundry is an eight-week program for people at research institutions anywhere in the world to hone an ambitious frontier-tech startup idea. We run a highly selective cohort of ten teams annually. We give you $1k, a mentor from a top-tier frontier startup, and a powerful community so you can focus on taking that idea to the next level.

Our mentors, speakers, and facilitators are pulled from Blackbird's network of frontier-tech founders and senior operators, and top-tier venture investor network. We're fastidious about quality.The program culminates in a competition day, where a panel of judges and an audience of hundreds bestow a $5k cash prize upon a winning pitch.


Foundry has no equity component and no fee.


> Someone on your team is enrolled or employed at a university
> Someone on your team has a strong link (e.g. citizenship or a local postdoc) with Australia or New Zealand
> You have at least the beginning of a startup idea

Where this could take you

Our two cohorts have raised millions from venture investors (including Possible, Outset, Investible, Galileo, and Blackbird), proceeded to specialised and world-class accelerators (including Startmate, Mass Robotics, and YCombinator), and---most importantly---are building incredible companies.

However, most of our participants stay on the academic path or move into a job in industry. There's no undue pressure---Foundry is about learning, networks, and ambition.

The Program

Foundry companies create a better future. We love hard tech: from full-stack mRNA therapeutics for brain diseases (Messenger Bio) and companion robots for loneliness (Andromeda), to long-range wireless energy transfer (Aquila) and whole-cell models for synthetic biology (Cell Bauhaus), to ML-enabled chemical diagnostics (Preview) and new error-correction paradigms for fault-tolerant quantum computing (Iceberg)---we haven't found an idea that fazes us.

What our alumni say about Foundry

"I cannot describe how beneficial Foundry has been for me. I learnt so much in 8 weeks and gained a network that I imagine will be beneficial well into the future! "

"It was above my expectations. I was expecting a few seminars with an opportunity to meet some VCs. I got much more."

"Foundry was super useful to us. [Our mentor] did a great job at validating/raising our ambitions and transmitting a lot of tacit knowledge that would've been hard to get otherwise."

"My mentor was outstanding...I cannot fault her. She gave me timely and honest feedback that was genuinely insightful. She has helped me a lot to properly orient myself with regard to the startup vs academia question."


Applications open 1 July and close 26 July 2024. Foundry 2024 will run from August 12 to October 4. Apply below.

What's special about Foundry?

There are plenty of frontier and biotech programs out there. Foundry is special: we're all about ambition and quality, and we really don't care about IP.

We help you find the best, most ambitious version of what you want to build---we dare you to try to faze us. We focus on providing you with the highest quality advice and networks to help you get there.


Our mentors include Cibby Pulikkaseril (co-founder of Baraja), Elise Jenkins (co-founder of Opto Bio), Hon Weng Chong (founder of Cortical Labs), David Bell (co-founder of Remedy Robotics), and Nick Opie (co-founder of Synchron). Our speaker lineup’s even better---be ready for exclusive masterclasses with deep tech and science’s best.

World's best mentors & speakers

Reality follows ambition. Foundry encourages you to identify the greatest impact you can have, and helps you chart a path to it. All you need is an idea. We're not fazed by long timelines and technical risk---we're as hungry as you are to solve the most important problems.

Wildest ambitions, greatest impact

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to changing the world. Foundry covers the basics of business-building, but focuses on developing the skills and character you need to start a frontier tech company. You can choose where to go deeper.

Bespoke, creative program

Download the Manifesto

Foundry is where we live out Blackbird's unique beliefs about scientist starting companies. We've written those beliefs down in our Manifesto. You can download it here.

There are high-potential founders in our research institutions. They can create and scale world-changing solutions in startups. The potential is in the future of these rare people, not their IP. Those who have the courage to found and build startups should be rewarded. They deserve to be supported from the very beginning with the full force of the best frontier technology founders, operators, and capital in the world.

Request the Foundry Manifesto
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Applications are open

Curious? Got an idea? You should apply!

Applications are open now
Apply now

Previous cohorts

We've worked with some amazing roboticists, biologists, education fiends, physicists, and more. Learn more about them and their wild ideas.


Who can apply?

Foundry is aimed at researchers---scientists, engineers, inventors---who are curious about founding a startup and have the seed of a world-changing idea. That said, anyone can apply with a wild startup idea. One person on your team needs to be an Australian or Kiwi. You can be based anywhere in the world!

Our archetypical founding team is led by one to three PhD students or EMCRs, who are supported by their research supervisor/s, but we love being surprised!

What's the application process?

We run a two-stage application:

1. By September 8, fill in the written application, detailed below. We review these on a rolling basis for the entirety of the application window, and inform weekly on shortlisting. We will provide feedback where relevant, and you can re-apply (read between the lines: it's a good idea to get an application in early).

2. Shortlisted applicants submit a short video interview (2-3 mins) answering a couple of questions for our application panel and mentors to review. 

The written application questions are:

  1. Tell us about the problem you want to solve. Why is it important? What will it take for it to be solved?
  2. Explain your solution. What secret have you learned about the world that underpins this solution? Why do you think it might be a good solution? Why might it be better than others?
  3. Tell us about your team. Who are you, and why are you the people to solve this problem?
  4. What does the world look like in 10 years, in the case that you’re successful?
  5. Attach a few papers or other references that explain the foundations of your solution.
Can I get feedback on my application?

Yes, absolutely! We review applications weekly and provide feedback then, and you’re welcome to resubmit. If you have any questions, you’re always welcome to email Clare at cbirch@blackbird.vc

What's the time commitment?

The base time commitment for the Foundry program is:

1. 2 hours per week in seminar/Q&A;

2. 2 hours per fortnight for cohort dinner;

3. 1 hour per fortnight for mentor meetings. 

4. 1-2 hours per week for side quests.

However, we subscribe to Nutrigrainism: you only get out what you put in. You are invited to dig in as deep as you would like. 

Does Blackbird invest in Foundry companies?

We do not invest in Foundry companies automatically, but prior-cohort participants have raised venture rounds from international investors including Startmate, Possible Ventures, Investible, Outset Ventures, and---yes---Blackbird.

What’s the cost?

There’s no cost to participants or any organisations with which they’re affiliated.

How does the competition work?

We run a competition/pitch day at the end of the program. A panel of judges chooses the winning team, and the team wins a A$5k cash prize - no strings attached.

Will you sign an NDA before I submit my application/participate?

As a general rule, no - it’s not standard, and it shouldn’t be necessary. But if it’s a dealbreaker for you, email cbirch@blackbird.vc and let’s chat.

Applications are open (and pretty painless)!

Curious? Got an idea? You should apply!

Applications close July 21st!