11 September 2019

Bega Valley Innovation Hub moves to Merimbula, applications closing!

| Ian Campbell
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Gemma Ansell, of Silver Service. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

Gemma Ansell, of Silver Service, part of the first cohort of the BVIH. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

A new home has been announced for the Bega Valley’s factory of the future – the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.

After launching earlier this year at the Bega Civic Centre, Merimbula will be home base for the second intake of this 12-week startup program.

Manager of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub Mia Maze says the new venue has been carefully chosen – the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, on Cabarita Place, Merimbula.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the Bega Valley Innovation Hub to become even more accessible to all businesses in our region,” Mia says.

“It will remain a place to foster regional innovation and will see both cohort one and cohort two cross-pollinate in a unison of ideas and experience. It will be a beautiful space nurturing the needs of businesses in incubation and also in acceleration”.

The community is invited to the Bega Valley Innovation Hub Pitch Final at the Bega Civic Centre on June 27. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

Cohort one of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub in action. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

The move comes at a time when many in the community are looking to review and re-energies Merimbula’s economy, with anxiety growing around the number of empty shops in the town and the future of retail in general.

Mayor, Kristy McBain is fully supportive, “This new location is a great fit with the program and will help increase activity and events in Merimbula that promote start up business, networking and community engagement.”

“This location will also help entrepreneurs from the southern parts of the Shire become familiar with the Innovation Hub and continue to build on the momentum from cohort one.”

The first cohort out of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub ‘graduated’ in late June, the seven start-up and existing businesses are now putting into practice what they learned and experienced. Applications for the next intake close this Wednesday – July 31.

“We want to extend our reach to include even more local talent and a move to Merimbula will mean that businesses that could not access the program when it was delivered in Bega will now be able to share in the benefits of innovation and innovative business development,” Mia says.

The three month program is backed by the Commonwealth Government, Bega Valley Shire Council, Bega Cheese, the Bega Chamber of Commerce, and the Univesity of Wollongong (UoW) and is geared around providing expert guidance and mentorship as part of UoW’s iAccelerate Innovation Network. Subjects include – marketing, leadership, finance, tax, accounting, customer relationships, networking, business structure and more.

“The Hub has given us the direction and the tools to succeed and access to a network to a stay down here [Bega Valley] and live in this community and make a go of it,” says Gregg Saarinen, of Saarinen Organics, part of cohort one.

The CoWorking Space is quickly becoming one of Merimbula's assets for locals and holiday makers alike.

The Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre in Merimbula. Photo: BVSC

Samantha Avitaia Manager, UoW Bega Campus says, “I’m thrilled to be extending our iAccelerate Educate program to Merimbula and look forward to welcoming another round of businesses and mentors into the program.”

“It’s great to see the Innovation Hub making its presence felt in Merimbula and engaging in the entrepreneurial culture of the town’s many retailers and tourism operators, as well as startup-minded individuals exploring new sectors and markets.

“After the success of the first program, the community as a whole is set to reap great benefits in terms of cultural and employment outcomes.”

The Bega Valley Innovation Hub will return to Bega on a full-time basis in early 2020 with the kick-off of cohort three.

The Bega Civic Centre will continue to a base for Hub activities during 2019 including the Pitch Final in November and other events and opportunities as they develop.

Views of Merimbula Lake add real energy to the CoWorking Space.

Views of Merimbula Lake add real energy of the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre. Photo: BVSC

“The Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre in Merimbula is the perfect location to host the planned activities. I am personally very excited and can’t wait to be involved,” says Liam O’Duibhir, 2pi Software.

If you are a founder or know an incredible local business that would benefit from the Bega Valley Innovation Hub program be quick applications for the August 22 intake close July 31.

Successful applicants will be eligible to apply for the $10 million iAccelerate Seed Fund.

For more information check the Bega Valley Innovation Hub website.

This is a sponsored article, though all opinions are the author’s own. For more information on paid content, see our sponsored content policy.

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