Innovative program aims to build economic resilience and create jobs in bushfire-affected regions
Fourteen entrepreneurs impressed a panel of judges from industry, government and education with a pitch for their business idea during the iAccelerate RISE program at the Wingecarribee Shire Civic Center Theatertte last week (Tuesday September 20).
Michael Turczynski won the jury prize in the lunchtime session with Untouch, an innovative cleaning concept using UV technology to avoid direct contact with dirty surfaces. Sue Hayward won the judges’ award in the evening session with Grand Stories, which captures the essence of your life story. Cintia Yamane Lemann, of Handcrafted Ceramics, and Paul Hemans, with his AI and robotics for schools and education, won the People’s Choice Awards in the lunchtime and evening sessions, respectively.
Each pitch was the culmination of eight weeks of learning about their business through the iAccelerate Rise program at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Entrepreneurs will also receive an invitation to showcase their businesses at an interregional innovation summit in the Bega Valley in March next year.
Judges for the pitch competition included Carisa Wells, President of Business Southern Highlands and CEO of Regional Development Australia Southern Inland; Stephen Lowe, Vice President of the Moss Vale and Rural Chamber of Commerce and Campus Director of the University of Wollongong Southern Highlands; Liz Dixon, Department of Regional NSW; Jan Campbell, Wingecarribee County Council; and Dr. Tamantha Stutchbury, Director of iAccelerate.
Chris Petersilge, iAccelerate Ecosystem Evangelist, said the final event of the Wingecarribee entrepreneurs’ pitch is the start of their business growth and development and contributes to the economic success of the region.
“The jury was impressed by both the professionalism and the caliber of each of the pitches,” Mr Petersilge said.
“Like all great pitches, they kept the judges and the audience hungry for more and proved it with the hours of conversations that continued after the event.”
Other entrepreneurs who participated in the event include:
- John Guest, pocket host
- Margot Murphy, Woodland Studio and Farm
- Deborah McLaughlin, The Honey Thief
- Amanda RennieArty Bowerbird
- Kate Ingham, Central Vendor Setup
- Jeanie Murphy, Glenfion
- Indigo Melrose, Mothers at Midnight
- Jeremy Barnett, Planitree
- Fiona Pearce, Happiness Frosting
- John Jordan, Escape Rooms
Mr. Petersilge noted that each of the presentation businesses have been able to evolve and grow.
“This is an important part of any business and builds economic growth and jobs for Wingecarribee County.
“We acknowledge that this program has been made possible at Wingecarribee Shire through joint funding from the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales under the Disaster Recovery Funding Agreements.”
iAccelerate Rise is one of 195 local community projects supporting economic or social recovery, building resilience and providing ongoing community benefits to bushfire-affected communities in New South Wales to receive Phase 2 funding from the local economic recovery from the bushfires.
The program has been developed in consultation with the Wingecarribee Shire Council and reaching out to the local community.