University of Melbourne-Bukalapak partnership to boost tech innovation and entrepreneurship

Victoria is set for a boost in technological innovation and entrepreneurship, thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Melbourne and Buka Australia – the newly-launched technology hub of Indonesian “unicorn” Bukalapak.

Those working and studying at the University of Melbourne in information technology and engineering will have new opportunities to develop a raft of skills in entrepreneurship, start-ups, research and development as a result of the partnership.

The all-commerce platform Bukalapak became Indonesia’s first and largest listed tech unicorn, making its debut on the Indonesian Stock Exchange in August 2021. A unicorn is a privately-held start-up company valued at over $1 billion.

Established in 2010 as an e-commerce marketplace platform to make commerce “possible for everyone everywhere,” the company has enabled micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) to go online and access the capital and infrastructure needed to grow through technology. It has evolved to become an all-commerce platform, with over 100 million users and 13.5 million MSMES.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT), Professor Mark Cassidy says the MOU will help drive equitable growth and innovation for Victoria, Indonesia and the region more broadly.

“This company’s evolution and success shows just how e-commerce can transform lives through technology, and the MOU offers a wonderful opportunity for our graduate researchers and students to learn from Bukalapak’s on-the-ground expertise and entrepreneurship – skills they’ll take with them to employment in industry.”

Speaking at the launch of Buka Australia, State Treasurer the Hon Tim Pallas MP said Victoria is the tech capital of Australia and the hub is part of the State’s endeavour to appeal to global companies to innovate and create job opportunities around its expertise.

“We are proud to welcome the establishment of Bukalapak's first international R&D hub in Melbourne, creating jobs and enhancing our state's culture of innovation," Mr Pallas said.

The company has attracted major investors including Microsoft, UBS Group, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, 500 Startups and Emtek. Its business lines now include marketplace, offline to online, b2b, financial services, logistics and many others.

The President of Bukalapak Teddy Oetomo says his company is committed to continuous growth and evolving its innovative services with a powerful technology team.

“Melbourne’s technology ecosystem is a proper base to build this tech hub that allows Indonesia’s technology talents to cooperate with Australian technology practitioners.

“Focusing on Big Data, the Internet of Things, AI and R&D activities, the hub will be an international base for Bukalapak to create a research and development centre that focuses on innovative product enhancement and increases the skills of Indonesian and Australian engineers and information technology specialists,” Mr Oetomo says.

FEIT’s Associate Dean International Professor Shanton Chang says the five-year MOU will see new opportunities for students in entrepreneurship, research, guest lectures, student prizes and sponsorship, among other initiatives.

"This will be a terrific addition to the many opportunities available to our students, especially with the focus on entrepreneurship," he says.

The MOU is underpinned by the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).

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First published on 25 February 2022.

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