Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

Credit: Annie Spratt

iAccelerate launches five new programs to power regional innovation

The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator iAccelerate will continue its regional entrepreneur program with the delivery of five new regional education programs in 2024 to help improve the capability and competitiveness of regional businesses.

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

Leveraging UOW’s regional presence across the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands campuses, the iAccelerate RISE programs will bring together the expertise of pre-accelerator facilitators, UOW academics and industry experts to help regional entrepreneurs tackle big problems. iAccelerate are also partnering with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to support circularity in the fisheries and aquaculture industry.

Ainslie Tweedie, iAccelerate’s Regional Entrepreneurship Manager, said this year the regional program will support entrepreneurs across NSW in five industries through targeted 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, targeting entrepreneurs throughout NSW, with the aim to boost economic resilience and create jobs in regional areas,” Ms Tweedie said. 

“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 provides 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. 

Southern Highlands-based entrepreneur Deborah McLaughlin, founder of The Honey Thief, 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. 

Ms McLaughlin launched a honey business that quickly grew from three beehives to more than 30 beehives but 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.”

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.

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

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

View all posts