A government funded innovation hub has opened in Albany as part of the West Australian port city’s new innovation project, the first in the state outside of Perth.
In January, the McGowan Labor government announced up to $220,000 in funding for an Albany Innovation Project in an effort to boost innovation in regional areas, including to support startups in the state’s south.
The main venture is an innovation centre known as iHub. It opened Friday, offering collaborative workspaces and networks for students and entrepreneurs.
The new smaller hub, with facilities for 60 people, is the government’s first outside of Perth, having also supported cyber, data, and life sciences hubs in the capital city.
“The McGowan Government is committed to diversifying our economy and building capacity amongst aspiring entrepreneurs across the State, including in the regions,” Western Australia’s new ICT Minister Don Punch said.
“The new Albany Innovation iHub will provide the connection and support needed to help Great Southern innovators turn their ideas into new local job opportunities.”
The Albany Innovation Project is being delivered by job training not-for-profits BreakthruWA and WorkLinkWA following a competitive EOI process.
BreakthruWA intends to deliver eight projects that include collaborative sessions, a program for senior secondary school students to take their ideas forward, digital business program, ‘She codes’ program for women, a hackathon, pitch night and a food innovation festival.
“Regional communities have such a strong innovative capacity, and I look forward to seeing the development of new ideas and businesses from the Great Southern region as it transforms into an ecosphere for entrepreneurs of all ages,” Mr Punch said.
The state government also supports the Joondalup-based WA AustCyber Innovation Hub in partnership with AustCyber and Edith Cowan University; the WA Data Science Innovation Hub in partnership with Perth’s Curtin University; and the medical and biotechnology focused MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the University of Western Australia.
The West Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation is responsible for the established hubs and is bullish on their impact. In a 2020 review of the three facilities, the Department declared “the greatest challenge for the Hubs will be meeting the ever-growing demand for their expertise, services and support.”