Days go by quickly especially if you are sitting on the sidelines of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.
Just three months ago the Hub launched with the backing of the University of Wollongong and it’s iAccelerate business acceleration program.
The idea was a mystery to many in this regional community, and there was certainly an element of blind faith, especially for the seven local businesses selected to take part.
On Thursday night (June 27) any remaining mystery will be blown wide open when the local men and women who have been throwing coals on this furnace will highlight their work of the last 12 weeks and the vision and plan they leave with.
The community is invited to the Bega Valley Innovation Hub Pitch Final at the Bega Civic Centre and see the first cohort from the Hub in action as they pitch their business future to a panel of industry experts.
The About Regional team has shared the Innovation Hub’s coworking space each Thursday and has been witness to the growing confidence around each of these businesses; their energy and drive is contagious.
“This will be a showcase these seven amazing entrepreneurs,” says Mia Maze, Manager of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.
“Local and national investors will be on hand to hear their business acceleration journey.
“This is the culmination of everything we have been working towards and I am really excited to see these people and business shine in front of a home crowd.”
The Bega Valley Innovation Hub works to develop the skills needed to build a commercially sustainable business that delivers the greatest economic and social impact.
Powered by the iAccelerate Innovation Network, the Hub presents existing businesses and new business ideas with a unique formula that empowers from the earliest spark towards a strong ongoing business.
During the program, participants have worked with expert mentors across a range of fields – marketing, leadership, finance, tax, accounting, customer relationships, networking, business structure and more.
“They have just come out of that experience beaming with knowledge,” Mia says.
“They have been through their ups and downs like we all do because they have had to challenge themselves and their ideas.
“But now they all feel like they are hitting the ground running and able to grow their business in the right way – we are very confident that these businesses have got a much stronger direction.”
This “factory of the future” includes:
- Jackie Parry, Sistership Press
“Paper charts are making a comeback and this is where Sistership Magazine has come in and created the right courses, teaching women and their families correct navigation to be safe on the water.”
- Kay and Greg Saarinen, Saarinen Organics
“We are a sustainable eco skin care business,nNow it’s time to step it up on the world stage with the Innovation Hub.”
- Kristi Sproates, Appy Connections
“People with disabilities experience lower levels of participation in our community, and I am all about how people can connect using technology.”
- Meghan Campbell and Jodie Meaker, Teen Clinic
“It’s a nurse-led drop-in clinic where young people can come and talk to nurses about absolutely anything.”
- Cheryl Nelson, Natural Chicken Health
“The production of a unique product called Super Mash – which has 10 ingredients that all perform various functions to keep chickens healthy.”
- Gemma Ansell, Silver Service
“We will provide tech support to seniors to help them navigate the IT world and undertake fundamental everyday tasks that might present a challenge.”
- William Sharples, Eden Gaming Development Centre
“We teach disengaged and disadvantaged youth how to make video games – coding, art, music, stories.”
“All the local and visiting mentors who have been part of the program have really loved it and been inspired and encouraged by working with Bega Valley entrepreneurs – they all want to come back,” Mia says.
Ongoing support and collaboration beyond the formal structure of the Hub’s program is one of the perks for businesses who take part. Thursday night’s pitch final does offer something more tangible – funding.
Each business will get three minutes before the judging panel, $1000 cash will go to the judges favourite, plus there are advertising packages to win from local media including About Regional for runners up and the audience winner.
From there each business is able to apply for seed funding from iAccerate in order to take the next step and drive their plans forward.
“Each one of these businesses now has the potential, they have built the skills and have the knowledge, it’s only a matter of time until we see these businesses grow,” Mia says.
“We didn’t really know what we could create here in the Bega Valley, it’s really developed around the needs and uniqueness of the region and the people taking part.”
Applications to be a part of the second cohort are open until July 31, details are available via the Innovation Hub’s website.
The Bega Valley Innovation Hub Pitch Final will be held on Thursday (June 27) from 5:30 pm at the Bega Civic Centre, entry is free but you are asked to register through Eventbrite.
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