Business bootcamp for regional SMEs

SLINGSHOT has conducted the second annual Icon business bootcamp and accelerator program for NSW regional small business owners and startups.

The program has been designed to support small business and entrepreneurs in the Hunter region and beyond. A collaboration between Slingshot, the University of Newcastle and the NSW Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Icon aims to supercharge the next generation of regional startups to drive innovation in the local economy.

Two programs were on offer: a free three-day business bootcamp for any business owner, founder or sole trader wanting to understand business models, growth, marketing, intellectual property, raising capital and pitching. This was open to all businesses, including NFPs, social enterprises or even just someone with an idea. 

The second program was a 10-week accelerator where startups can apply and pitch their idea to secure a position in the program for investment. This year successful applicants received an increase in seed investment of $25,000, tailored training and world class mentoring throughout the program.

Slingshot co-founder Trent Bagnall said the Icon program played an important role in driving innovation and commercial outcomes in the Hunter region.

“Startups and small businesses are the lifeblood of regional Australia,” Mr Bagnall said.

“Not only will Icon bring experts to the area, it will also facilitate greater collaboration with corporates and investors who can help grow these businesses. We have already supported many successful startups in the region through our accelerator programs like Deckee, Camplify, Liftango and Social Pinpoint, who were recently acquired.”

Last year, several founders who went through the business bootcamp also applied for the accelerator program and secured a place which allowed them to further develop their ideas and tackle problems.

Icon accelerator alumni Josh Leask, the founder of Finactly, achieved great momentum since the program and recently secured a contract as well as going live with a large Australian bank.

“When we started the Icon Accelerator last year we had just an idea,” Mr Leask said. “Just seven months later we were out there solving the problem of unexplained transactions. It has taken a lot of work by the team to get to this point and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.”

University of Newcastle senior deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, Professor Kevin Hall said the University of Newcastle was delighted to be working with Slingshot again through their Integrated Innovation Network.

“We are looking forward to hosting the business bootcamp and accelerator on campus to enable more opportunities for our talented staff and students to create new enterprises,” Prof. Hall said.

“The university has a strong track record of success in innovation and translational research, so the Icon business bootcamp and accelerator program is a good fit for us.”

Last year, Slingshot and University of Newcastle were awarded funding under the Australian Government’s $23 million Incubator Support initiative to establish the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) Regional Accelerator of which Icon is a part.

I2N is expected to create at least 45 jobs in the short term, with more to come as startups find success domestically and internationally. It will also deliver around $2.0m in investment back into the Hunter economy over two years.

The Icon Accelerator for 2018 concluded on December 19 in Newcastle with a Demo Day showcasing the cohort’s businesses which last year was also supported by Hunter icons including Kurt Fearnley and Carol Duncan who pitched their big ideas. The program is expected to run again this year.


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