8 March 2024

Five new programs to help regional entrepreneurs tackle the big issues and boost employment

| Katrina Condie
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Regional business owners and start-ups at the 2022 Eurobodalla Entrepreneur pitch event. Photo: UOW.

The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator iAccelerate will launch five new programs to power regional innovation across a diverse cross section of the community.

iAccelerate will continue its regional entrepreneur program with the delivery of education workshops over eight weeks to help improve the capability and competitiveness of businesses in the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions.

The focus on key industries comes as the program aims to support regional entrepreneurs addressing sustainability and tackling big challenges.

Leveraging UOW’s presence across its regional campuses, the iAccelerate RISE programs will bring together the expertise of pre-accelerator facilitators, UOW academics and industry experts to help entrepreneurs.

The program has partnered with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to support circularity in the fisheries and aquaculture industry.

iAccelerate’s Regional Entrepreneurship manager Ainslie Tweedie said, this year the regional program would target entrepreneurs across NSW in five industries, with the aim of boosting economic resilience and creating jobs in regional areas.

“For the first time, the iAccelerate RISE program will focus on key sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, advanced manufacturing, circularity, ecotourism, and high-quality food production,” she said.

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“It is strongly linked to the NSW economic plan for regional business development. It is about helping people get really clear on where they want their business to go. Supporting them to work on the business, not in their business.”

Through an eight-week program, RISE will provide regional entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to pursue new innovations in their current business, or start-up, to develop the necessary skills to bring their ideas to life.

“Each cohort is specialised. They will be able to deep dive into the specifics of that industry and learn from industry mentors,” Ms Tweedie said.

“This will meet the needs of regional communities with the support of being co-located with the UOW regional campuses.”

RISE offers practical workshops, online learning and a network of regional and international experts to help businesses grow and scale. Businesses are invited to apply from anywhere in regional NSW to join a cohort of like-minded entrepreneurs.


iAccelerate’s Regional Entrepreneurship manager Ainslie Tweedie is encouraging regional business owners to put their hands up for the workshops. Photo: Supplied.

Southern Highlands-based entrepreneur and founder of The Honey Thief Deborah McLaughlin completed the RISE program in 2022.

With a move away from a busy life in Sydney, Ms McLaughlin relocated her young family to acreage in Bowral to follow her passion for eco-friendly living and a change of pace.

Her honey business quickly grew from three beehives to more than 30 hives, and she found herself with little knowledge of running a retail business. She joined the program to seek help solidifying her business idea.

“I had not factored in things like what the problem I was solving was. I did not have a solid business model,” Ms McLaughlin said.

“RISE opened my eyes to things I had not considered before in my business. Understanding the information I needed, I was able to put together a successful pitch; being succinct and grab attention was a key element.”

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With the help of RISE, she was able to refine her pitch and secure grant funding. Her business has diversified, and she now offers a range of flavoured honey products with opportunities on the horizon to expand further.

iAccelerate has been delivering entrepreneurial programs in regional NSW since 2016 and has had a transformative impact on start-ups with a focus on diversity and supporting First Nations entrepreneurs.

In 2022, the program was expanded with the introduction of RISE to boost economic resilience in bushfire-affected areas across the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Goulburn Mulwaree, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy Monaro and Wingecarribee and four Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Since its regional launch, RISE has supported 56 regional start-ups in bushfire-affected areas to create 300 new jobs.

In June last year, the business incubator received a $455,000 grant from the NSW Government as part of the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund to further support the RISE program.

The 2024 businesses will be supported by a robust model of education and have access to one of the world’s most innovative young research universities.

Entrepreneurs and businesses interested in the program are encouraged to reach out to iAccelerate to discuss the opportunities available.

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David Bowley8:42 pm 11 Mar 24

How many beautiful Brumbies have been slaughtered so far in the so called ‘humane’ cull since 4th March?

David Bowley8:39 pm 11 Mar 24

The word is programme NOT program

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