Regional entrepreneurship program clinches $455k funding boost from NSW

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The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator and accelerator, iAccelerate, has received a $455,000 grant from the New South Wales Government as part of the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund (ARIF).

The funding will help iAccelerate’s RISE programme for regional entrepreneurs increase economic growth and create new jobs by providing evidence-based training, connecting them to industry experts, and connecting them to inter-regional networks to create long-term economic benefits and support entrepreneurship at the regional level.

The $3 million ARIF fund supports incubator and accelerator initiatives in regional NSW to assist companies in enhancing their capacity and competitiveness through networking, training, and investment possibilities. 

ARIF also seeks to promote economic development and give local business owners the tools they need to lead change and grow their enterprises.

iAccelerate Director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury welcomed the funding news, which would increase regional entrepreneurs’ access to the cutting-edge RISE initiative.

Dr Stutchbury added that the project will provide 35 of the most potential regional entrepreneurs with comprehensive business support to foster long-term economic growth in regional NSW.

“UOW has strong relationships and regional connections through its campuses across the region and this funding will support the delivery of programs in Bega Valley, Shoalhaven, Wingecarribee andEurobodalla regions by leveraging its research capabilities with our partner the Bega Valley Innovation Hub,” the iAccelerate director stated. 

For the past five years, UOW has worked closely with the NSW Government and the Bega business community, and has given business support to programs that transfer and develop critical knowledge in the local community.

“The gap of disadvantage between building a start-up, scale-up or small and medium-sized business (SME) in a city compared to in the regions is well known. This project will democratise access to entrepreneurship support that has historically only existed in Sydney and Melbourne,” noted Dr Stutchbury.

She said that the Bega Valley Innovation Hub and the iAccelerate RISE project are examples of iAccelerate’s long history of fostering local entrepreneurship.

“Over the past decade iAccelerate has supported the launch of 300+ companies and created 1000+ jobs. These companies have achieved growth in revenue and profits generating over $61.1 million in revenue and putting $33.6 million back into the economy,” Dr Stutchbury concluded. 

Meanwhile, Paul di Pietro, UOW’s dean of Research Knowledge Exchange and Translation, said the project will strengthen relationships within the regional NSW innovation ecosystem and link participants with iAccelerate’s global networks.

“Access to capital raising opportunities exist in the $10M iAccelerate Seed Fund, Demo Days, Investor Showcases, and the iAccelerate’s investor connections,” he said.