Bega Valley Innovation Hub: supporting business in bushfire recovery

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Publication Date: 
November 2020
Case study from: Industry Innovation and Science Australia annual reports

The Bega Valley Innovation Hub has been critical for more than 120 business owners. Business owners have been able to access workshops and support following the summer bushfires. 

The Phoenix Stabilise and Resolve workshop series has provided timely and valuable advice on digital adoption and innovation. It has helped businesses implement new ideas and opportunities from the hardship. 

In the Bega Valley Innovation Hub’s Auckland Street offices, there is a thriving community of like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors.

The Hub has been a lifeline for entrepreneurs and small business owners. It has supported them to gain new tools and skills to recover from the fires and pandemic.

The Bega Valley Innovation Hub is more than just an accelerator. It offers a multi-faceted, structured approach to empowering startups, scale-ups and entrepreneurs to rapid and sustainable growth through its connections with the iAccelerate Innovation Network and its mentors.

The Bega Valley Innovation Hub has also continued to run its business accelerator program. The program runs in association with the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the iAccelerate Innovation Network. 

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme supported the UOW in setting up this Bega based incubator. It did this via grant funding of $382,000 awarded in May 2018. The funding came from the Incubator Support Initiative. It enabled the hub to connect global networks with local businesses and startups. This includes accessing over $10 million in seed funding. 

As soon as the region was safe from the fires, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme connected experienced facilitator Monique Donaldson to the Hub. Monique helped businesses begin to navigate and access a range of government support. She also assisted them to tap into further research capabilities. 

This additional support arrived via the program’s Strengthening Business service. The service met the rapid need to help businesses in regions affected by the bushfires.

Two people on a beach looking at seaweed.

Jo from Sea Health Products and Kay from Saarinen Organics are now collaborating after connecting through the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.

Through this connection, Saarinen Organics, based in Wyndham, and Sea Health Products, near Narooma, utilised the service. Both companies:

  • are run by dynamic female founders
  • have international capabilities
  • have collaborated to produce a range of organic, sea kelp-based skincare

Through the Strengthening Business offering, the Australian Government has also placed a fulltime facilitator in the Bega area. The facilitator will assist businesses with recovery for the next 2 years.

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