If you’re looking for ways to ease the start-up phase or grow your business through innovation, technology parks and business incubators are a good place to start.
The start-up or early phase of a business can be tough.
Sometimes new kids on the block are isolated from the expertise and resources provided by technology parks and business incubators. Overheads can be overwhelming, particularly when there is a long period between research, development, and commercialising products or services.
Technology parks provide a space to conduct research and development (R&D). Many are attached to universities, which means tenants can draw on the expertise of staff and students and use facilities such as laboratories and libraries. Incubators provide the next step for small or home-based businesses looking for new premises, often providing office space (sometimes for a specific period of time) with rent designed to be more affordable for start-ups. Tenants usually have access to shared facilities, such as meeting rooms, photocopier, fax and receptionist services.
Entry to both is usually via an application process. Technology parks may require entrants to come from a particular industry or field of technology. Entering incubators often involves a consultation with the management to determine if the business is viable.
The benefits to businesses involved with technology parks and incubators include being surrounded by, and learning from, other businesses in similar industries or fields, and assistance with commercialising innovation. There are many business incubators operating around the country in both metropolitan and regional areas. For an extended list, go to Technology Parks and Incubators Australia (www.tpia.org.au) and the Business Innovation and Incubation Australia website www.businessincubation.com.au
Here is a selection of what’s in each state:
NEW SOUTH WALES
Australian Technology Park (ATP) www.atp.com.au
Ranging from solo start-ups to large organisations, ATP has more than 100 tenants in the technology industry.
Macquarie University Research Park www.murp.mq.edu.au
With links to facilities and resources at Macquarie University, this park is located in Sydney’s North Ryde, home to many hi-tech industries. Tenants can benefit from access to university staff for research and consultancy, postgraduate research students, university research facilities and library resources.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Technology (ANSTO) Park www.ansto.gov.au/info/orgatlh.html
ANSTO is Australia’s national nuclear organisation and the centre of Australian nuclear expertise. As well as the work done by ANSTO, the precinct includes a technology park and home for R&D organisations.
Sutherland Shire Hub for Economic Development (SSHED) www.sshed.com.au
Designed for helping small business grow, SSHED was named the 2005 Incubator of the Year by Business Innovation and Incubation Australia (BIIA). Businesses can rent a desk-space (called ‘hot-desking’) or a fully-equipped office on site.
Hunter Region Business Enterprise Centre www.lowerhunterbec.com.au/incubator.jsp
There are many Business Enterprise Centres operating around the country, offering advice and services for small business. This one also offers office space and tenancy for up to three years.
The LaTrobe Research and Development Park www.latrobe.edu.au/techpark
Attached to LaTrobe University, this R&D park has a technology and science base, fostering three-stage development: incubation, maturation and relocation.
Ballarat Technology Park www.ballarattechnologypark.com
Located within the University of Ballarat, the park’s Global Innovation Centre helps companies in the areas of IT, biotechnology, and agricultural and environmental technologies to commercialise their business. Also in the park, the Greenhill Enterprise Centre is specifically designed to help small and medium IT companies, R&D units and short-term project teams.
Geelong Technology Precinct www.deakin.edu.au/gtp
Affiliated with Deakin University, the precinct supports research and work in biotechnology, nanotechnology, prototyping and wine science.
R&D for hi-tech businesses and emerging technology companies in the fields of micro, bio and nano technologies looking for customised product development and manufacturing assistance.
DDC Centre www.ddcprogram.com
The newly-opened DDC Centre is an extension of the DDC program run by MAP Venture Partners, which is designed to assist technology start-ups, and has a key focus on commercialisation and protecting intellectual property. The centre also draws on partnerships with businesses in areas such as legal and design to help tenants.
Fashion Incubator www.fashionincubator.com.au
Located within the Melbourne Central shopping centre in Melbourne’s CBD, the Fashion Incubator was created to help designers develop small business enterprises.
Brisbane Technology Park Queensland (BTP) www.brisbanetechnologypark.com.au
An initiative of the Queensland Government, BTP aims to promote the state’s business, economic and scientific skills, and stimulate growth and employment in technology sectors. Current tenants include both emerging and established businesses. It also offers virtual office space, which provides businesses with a mailing address and access to a range of services, such as receptionist service and meeting rooms, without needing to rent on-site office space.
With room for up to 100 people and resources to support up to 15 emerging companies (with tenancies of two years), i.lab also has a virtual option, allowing businesses off-site access to various benefits and services in the park. It has been designed to promote the development of hi-tech businesses in Queensland, and encourages the involvement of entrepreneurs and investors.
Innovation Centre, Sunshine Coast www.innovation-centre.com.au
Since opening in early 2002, the innovation centre’s business incubator has helped 15 new businesses to grow. The centre places importance on networking, building a large entrepreneurial network its members can tap into.
Bundaberg Enterprise Centre www.bundabergbec.org.au
Last year’s BIIA Regional Incubator of the Year, this primarily operates as a business information centre. It also functions as an incubator, with 27 business units available for start-ups, home-based businesses looking to expand and not-for-profit organisations.
North Queensland Business Development Centre www.thuringowa.qld.gov.au/investment/small_business
The only business incubator in north Queensland, the centre was established by Thuringowa City Council and the Federal government. A diverse range of tenants include light industry, manufacturing, service providers, science and retail.