Innovative program aims to boost economic resilience, 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 Wingecarribee Shire Civic Centre Theatrette last week (Tuesday, 20 September).
Michael Turczynski won the Judges’ Choice Award during the lunch 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, from Handcrafted Ceramics, and Paul Hemans, with his AI and Robotics for schools and education, won the People’s Choice Awards in the lunch and evening sessions, respectively.
Each pitch was the culmination of eight weeks of discovery on their business through the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) iAccelerate Rise program. The entrepreneurs will also receive an invitation to showcase their businesses at an inter-regional innovation summit in the Bega Valley in March next year.
Judges for the pitch competition included Carisa Wells, the 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 University of Wollongong Southern Highlands Campus Manager; Liz Dixon, Department of Regional NSW; Jan Campbell, Wingecarribee Shire Council; and Dr Tamantha Stutchbury, Director of iAccelerate.
Chris Petersilge, iAccelerate Ecosystem Evangelist, said the Wingecarribee Entrepreneur Pitch Final event is the beginning of growth and development of their business and contribution to the economic success of the region.
“The judging panel were impressed with both the professionalism and calibre of each of the pitches,” Mr Petersilge said.
“Like all great pitches, they enticed the judges and audience to learn more and proved this with the hours of conversations that continued after the event.”
Other entrepreneurs who pitched at the event included:
- John Guest, Pocket Host
- Margot Murphy, Woodland Studio and Farm
- Deborah McLaughlin, The Honey Thief
- Amanda Rennie, Arty Bowerbird
- Kate Ingham, Seller Central Setup
- Jeanie Murphy, Glenfion
- Indigo Melrose, Mothers at Midnight
- Jeremy Barnett, Planitree
- Fiona Pearce, Icing Bliss
- John Jordan, Escape Rooms
Mr Petersilge noted that each of the pitching businesses were able to scale and expand.
“This is an important part of any business and builds on economic growth and employment for the Wingecarribee Shire.
“We acknowledge this program was made possible to deliver in Wingecarribee Shire through joint funding by the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.”
iAccelerate Rise is one of 195 local community projects supporting economic or social recovery, strengthening resilience and delivering ongoing community benefit to bushfire-affected communities in NSW to receive Stage 2 Bushfire Local Economic Recovery funding.
The program was developed in consultation with Wingecarribee Shire Council and in speaking to the local community.