Charles Sturt University (CSU), coworking community Working Spaces HQ, and Wagga Wagga City Council have received a $300,000 grant to help boost innovation in the Riverina region.
The funding is part of the NSW Government’s Local Innovation Network Program, a $2.1 million initiative looking to leverage the existing startup communities and infrastructure of seven regions across the state to further grow their startup and small business activity.
Joining Wagga Wagga as part of the network are Bathurst, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Newcastle, and Wollongong.
Niall Blair, Minister for Trade and Industry, said the funding will help unlock the startup potential in the region.
“Regional startups across the Riverina can now expect improved access to clients, mentoring and investment beyond the reach of their community, as well as opportunities to connect with other regional entrepreneurs,” he said.
“A crucial element of the program is to support businesses in the Riverina by identifying and addressing the barriers to startup success.”
A portion of the funding for will go to CSU, which stated it will allocate $70,000 to fostering students to “be innovative and entrepreneurial”, while $15,000 will be allocated to enabling “relevant CSU staff to be entrepreneurial champions”.
Siobhan Howard, project officer at the CSU AgriTech Incubator, said, “This is an exciting opportunity for CSU’s AgriTech Incubator to further develop the pipeline of new regional startups by training and activating student entrepreneurs as we continue our commitment to building innovation and the startup ecosystem in the regions.”
Meanwhile, Blair added that Working Spaces HQ will offer training and networking events to local startups in partnership with the city council.
“Working Spaces HQ will assist the startup community to tackle local economic issues such as using vacant shop fronts to invigorate the region’s cultural life and nighttime economy,” he said.
Founded by Simone Eyles, Working Spaces HQ has assisted almost 60 startups over the past 18 months through initiatives such as Incubate @ 35 Degrees.
The organisation earlier this year announced an expansion, with Dianna Somerville linking up with Eyles to launch a new space, Hubb Hubb.
The NSW Government will partner with each of the regional funding recipients to offer financial products, such as grants, interest-free loans and loan guarantees to regional entrepreneurs.
Elsewhere in regional NSW, Bathurst in April opened the Upstairs Startup Hub, developed by Charles Sturt University, the NSW Government, Bathurst Regional Council, and Reliance Bank.
As well as 32 dedicated desks, hot desks, breakout spaces, meeting rooms, and conference facilities, the Upstairs hub is also home to James Triggs as expert in residence and hosts a mentorship program for startups.
The Bega Valley Shire, meanwhile, received $382,000 in funding from the Federal Government’s Incubator Support Program in June to develop an innovation hub.
To be based out of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Bega campus, it will provide support to the university’s accelerator program, iAccelerate, and space for the community.
Image: Hubb Hubb.