The federal government has appointed four ‘innovation facilitators’ across regional Australia to help regional incubators and startups through the Incubator Support program.
The new regional specialists are now available in central and mid-north New South Wales and southern Queensland regions; northern Queensland; south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia; and regional Western Australia. Regardless of location however, all regional applicants will have access to a regional incubator facilitator.
Those taking up the roles are:
- Andrew Outhwaite, chair of StartupWA
- Brad Twynham, startup consultant
- Daniel Smith, former MassChallenge country manager
- Mark Phillips, business mentor
The facilitators are charged with providing advice and helping people develop professional networks in Australia and overseas, and to forge local links with business, industry, universities, research institutions and government.
Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash said the program aimed to drive regional development and growth.
“The additional support and advice these expert facilitators provide to incubators and startup hubs will help to foster successful start-ups in our regions,” she said.
Interestingly, however, while the specialists are responsible to focus on assistant incubators and startups in regional Australia, some are based in what many would consider as metro, leaving some sceptical about exactly how the facilitators will be to assist if they’re not on the ground.
David Masefield, co-founder of Startup Toowoomba, said the additional measure should improve the overall quality of startups and entrepreneurs in the regions.
“Overall, what the federal government is doing is a good idea. From my understanding, the quality of applications that were going through the Incubator Support process was not up to scratch,” he said.
“The government recognises that people want to be doing some good out in the regions, but were not hitting the target of what was really required in the applications, so by bringing on board some coordinators to assist the process I think that’s a good thing.
“For me, it becomes a bridge between the people who are going to make the decision in Canberra, who may not have direct contact with the people who are putting in the applications.”
The $23 million Incubator Support program is an initiative of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and designed to give incubators and accelerators access to matched funding of up to $500,000 to improve their commercial prospects.
Since its launch in September 2016, the Incubator Support program has awarded almost $6.3 million to 15 new and existing Australian incubators. An additional $800,000 has been invested in expert secondments into 30 Australian incubators.