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Slingshot and University of Newcastle partner to launch Icon Accelerator Program

Slingshot and the University of Newcastle (UoN) have announced the launch of the Icon Accelerator Program, which will look to support startups working within NSW’s Hunter region with mentorship and funding.

The startups accepted into the program will receive $25,000 seed funding in exchange for 10 percent equity, and work over a ten week period beside the accelerator’s mentor network to grow their business.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to travel to Austin to meet one-on-one with one of the accelerator’s key mentors Ash Maurya, founder of LeanStack, a startup working to build online tools, coaching and content to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas.

The accelerator comes as a part of UoN’s Integrated Innovation Network (I2N), an initiative formed through a grant from the NSW Government last year to help incubate regional startups through innovation hubs.

May this year saw an additional $475,000 grant issued from the government to help Slingshot and UoN kickstart the Icon accelerator, as part of the government’s $23 million Incubator Support scheme announced in this year’s budget.

$1.4 million in grants have been supplied so far under the scheme, including the investment in the accelerator, which is planned to run across the next two years and accept up to 10 startups in each cohort.

The I2N initiative is expected to invest $2 million back into the Hunter economy and create roughly 45 jobs in the short term, a number which is expected to grow alongside the size of the network.

Speaking about the accelerator’s role in the region, Slingshot cofounder Trend Bagnall said it will help support the development of Hunter’s diverse startup sector.

“Startups and small businesses are the lifeblood of the Hunter region and we look forward to equipping them with the investment and training they need to succeed. Not only will Icon bring some of the best business minds to the area, it will also facilitate greater collaboration with corporates who can support these businesses through growth,” he said.

The Icon Accelerator is the latest program Slingshot has helped develop to tap into regionally-based startups, with the organisation earlier this month announcing the launch of Horizons, a tourism-focused program to run in Cairns and Brisbane with backing from the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative.

Earlier this year also saw Slingshot launch CoVentured, a online platform connecting startups from anywhere across Australia with corporates.

In addition to the Icon accelerator, both Slingshot and UoN will also be hosting a pre-accelerator program, a free initiative designed to support early stage startups and small businesses in the Hunter region.

Up to 120 participants will be accepted into the pre-accelerator, where they will be educated about capital raising, marketing, business modelling and presenting.

Professor Kevin Hall, UoN’s senior deputy vice-chancellor, said the university was looking forward to working beside Slingshot to run the program, which will be tailored specifically for startups in the local region.

“Icon fills a gap in the current Hunter ecosystem by delivering a cohesive, industry-agnostic accelerator with investment embedded within it to allow companies to scale and go global. It’s tailored to the specific needs of our region, but also the opportunities of our region, with the Hunter’s unique set of land uses, educational institutions, breadth of industries and longstanding capacity for generating knowledge and technology with worldwide reach,” he said.

Not the first partnership between Slingshot and UoN, last year saw the organisations collaborate to establish STAR4000, an entrepreneur-focused course at the university designed to equip students with the skills to launch their own venture.

You can find more about the accelerator here.

Image: Slingshot Team. Source: Supplied.





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