Economy

Regional innovation acceleration leads to realisation – Witness the pitch this Thursday!

Lisa Herbert 26 November 2019
iAccelerate Cohorts current and past in Bega rehearsing their pitches. Photo: Lisa Herbert

iAccelerate Cohorts current and past at the UoW campus in Bega rehearsing their pitches. Photo: Lisa Herbert

Over the past 12 weeks, a bunch of people with new and creative business ideas have been working hard to shape their enterprises – changing things up and around, reaching out to the community for customer validation, and working alongside experts and mentors.

These are the current participants in the Bega Valley Innovation Hub’s iAccelerate Program.

This Thursday (November 28) it all comes to a head at the Bega Civic Centre, as each entrepreneur pitches their idea to a panel of judges that includes Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain, Stephanie Kimber from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa, and Zoe Naiden Program Manager, Innovation Incubator Support Programs, plus the general public, media, local business people and other dynamic types.

Talk about the pressure of the spotlight!

Everyone is welcome to come along, to see what our Bega Valley Innovation Hub resident companies have been learning at this exclusive preview event, and perhaps pick up some tips.

Excited pitchers from the first Innovation Hub group, 2019. Photo: Double Take Photographics

Excited pitchers from the first Innovation Hub group, 2019. Photo: Double Take Photographics

Participants come to the accelerator program to access business advice, resources, contacts and even capital. They learn from experienced entrepreneurs, test their business model and gain industry insights from the network.

Manager of the Innovation Hub Mia Maze says “interestingly 94% coming on board have been female entrepreneurs, seeking not just a networking space but also mentorship and knowledge.”

“Some of them have completely changed their business model, strategy and structure, while others have benefited from focused technical expertise, helping them to overcome bottlenecks and even gain access to international markets.”

One of those pitching will be Karolina Russell of Festival Director an on-line boutique ticketing and event management application.

“Being involved in the program has meant new skills in marketing and branding. It is really intensive, and the calibre of the information has been so high, we are unable to access this info elsewhere,” Karolina says.

Jo Lane has been testing her kelp products on market customers. Photo: Lisa Herbert

Jo Lane has been testing her kelp products on market customers. Photo: Lisa Herbert

Sea Health Products owner Jo Lane collects kelp from the seashore in between tides, near Narooma. “We sustainably harvest seaweed for skincare, food, seasoning, for health supplements,” Jo explains.

“I’ve come to the Hub to learn skills and to grow my confidence in running the business. I’ve gleaned really valuable information and realised we need more assistance in marketing and other ways to achieve our goals. And I am surrounded by like-minded and supportive people!”

Ginger the Frog is another of the businesses who’ll pitch on Thursday night. Sarah Campbell-Lambert’s idea is an educational mindfulness program for children and their parents that encourages creative thinking and robust emotional health. Ginger is the hero of 10 stories that engage children’s right brain and will eventually be an app, a book, as well as the interactive website.

Freedom Health and Yoga founder Dinah Facious of Frogs Hollow is developing an online ‘back pain recovery kit’ for general back problems. Freedom Health is a downloadable program with live support from experts, video, instruction on PDFs, with email followups and monthly on-line chats. Dinah says the Innovation Hub has helped her “zero in on exactly what I want to offer, how to do it, how to get it to my audience”.

Jed Done and Patricia Mills of Jed Done Surfboards are developing their custom-designed, 100% hand-shaped surfboard business by exploring export markets and opportunities. “These are top-shelf high-performance boards, and we’ve been making them for fifteen years. The Innovation Hub has helped us develop skills in marketing and export, from our home base in Pambula,” Patricia says.

Road to Home, a business presented by Leanne Atkinson, re-imagines your path to homeownership. “There are traditional ways of course,” Leanne says, “but many of us have difficulties, for example women over forty.”

“Maybe a tiny house would do, and we will find you a builder, a location and maybe a community, assist in the selection of land and help with finance.”

So what will the pitch panel think of these inspiring local business ideas? Come along and see and vote in the People Choice category.

Cheryl Nelson pitches early in 2019. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

Cheryl Nelson pitches early in 2019. Photo: Double Take Photographics.

As well as witnessing these entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to the panel you also participate in a couple of free expert workshops to be held prior to the Pitch Final:

Immediately after these workshop events, you can witness the amazing startups of theBega Valley Innovation Hub present their pitches.

The Pitch Final is Thursday, November 28, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre. Reserve your place HERE.

For more in the Bega Valley Innovation Hub check the website.

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