The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator and iAccelerate has been awarded $999,570 from the Federal and NSW governments’ combined Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLER) to bring the iAccelerate program to 10 bushfire-affected regions.
The project, led by UOW’s iAccelerate, will deliver education programs to support 90 promising entrepreneurs and business owners in bushfire affected areas to create new jobs.
UOW’s iAccelerate to offer resilience programs
Building on the success of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub, which launched in 2019 to drive regional innovation, the new project will target bushfire-affected regions by offering entrepreneurs access to economic resilience programs for industry and business development.
The funding awarded will allow UOW to work with specific local government areas (LGAs) to deliver the program through local facilitators.
The program will roll out in the Bega Valley Shire, Eurobodalla Shire, Goulburn Mulwaree, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Snowy Monaro, Wingecarribee Shire, and 4 Aboriginal Councils.
The program was developed in consultation with local governments and communities.
Chris Petersilge, iAccelerate Evangelist said that in addition to increasing economic resilience, the program will keep young people in the regions by providing jobs and businesses.
“Having launched the Bega Valley Innovation Hub in NSW’s far South Coast, iAccelerate is familiar with the challenges and opportunities faced with supporting regional entrepreneurs.”
“With over a decade of creating new industries and over 700 jobs in Wollongong, we’re ready to bring this model created in the Bega Valley to more bushfire-affected areas.”
iAccelerate to collaborate with Yarpa
As part of the project UOW will be working in close partnership with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Yarpa Indigenous Business and Employment Hub (Yarpa) to deliver the program to bushfire affected Indigenous communities in NSW.
UOW has a Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
Yarpa licensed the iAccelerate ‘Activate’ program to run a pilot for their entrepreneurs, working with the business incubator to adapt the job-creating program to the needs of Indigenous entrepreneurs in NSW to strengthen and grow the Indigenous start-up sector.
This new project will build on the pilot to deliver more training, connections, and support for Indigenous entrepreneurs in bushfire-affected communities to help them start their own businesses as a form of economic independence and prosperity.
“Yarpa Indigenous Business & Employment Hub is proud to support UOW through the delivery of the iAccelerate Activate program, where support is needed in the bushfire areas,” said Westley Trist, Industry Relationship & Strategic Partnerships Manager at Yarpa Hub.
“These opportunities are a catalyst for economic recovery in the regions with new jobs and stronger businesses being one of Yarpa’s main goals to pursue economic independence and prosperity for our people. We enthusiastically look forward to the future of the program.”
iAccelerate is one of 195 local community projects supporting economic or social recovery, strengthening resilience and delivering ongoing community benefit to bushfire-affected communities in NSW to receive stage 2 BLER funding.
UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer L Martin congratulated the iAccelerate team on the landmark announcement for Australians.
“UOW continues to foster innovation through providing leading entrepreneurial education programs. I look forward to seeing the roll out of the iAccelerate Activate program to bushfire-affected areas to create new jobs in the regions,” Professor Martin said.