The NSW Government’s work to boost innovation in regional areas through Jobs for NSW has been recognised in a new report from StartupAUS.
The 2018 Crossroads Report on Australia’s startup sector says NSW’s $2.1 million Local Innovation Network (LIN) was an example of how to support innovation and build a strong startup culture in regional communities.
The report said regional centres faced potential job losses from technological disruption and needed to be able to create new opportunities to attract and keep a healthy flow of people.
Jobs for NSW identified three key challenges for improving regional innovation including understanding and accessing startup finance, attracting and retaining skills and talent in regions, and contacts and access to startup networks and broader ecosystems.
The Local Innovation Network (LIN) is an investment through Jobs for NSW to drive innovation across seven emerging innovation areas in regional NSW: Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, Newcastle, Bathurst, Wollongong and Wagga Wagga.
The LIN connects regional entrepreneurs with each other and with Sydney and Asia Pacific ecosystems to accelerate knowledge sharing and collaboration to help startups grow and create jobs while benefiting the economy.
As well as providing local support, LIN members work together in a ‘hub and spoke’ network to connect and strengthen startup communities.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Small Business John Barilaro said the LIN was a fantastic initiative that will provide regional startups and SMEs with improved facilities, training programs and events.
“For instance, in Wollongong, the Local Innovation Network will enable i-Accelerate to extend its outreach to Bega and Bowral with strong support from Bega Shire Council and Wollongong University,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Byron Community College will work to collaborate with multiple incubators and co-working spaces and grow links with Southern Cross University, Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce and Byron Bay Council.
“Working together we will transform our regions through greater connections and collaboration to make them world leaders in entrepreneurial activity.”
The Crossroads report also recognised the Sydney Startup Hub’s Regional Landing Pad which supports regional entrepreneurs by giving them free working space when they visit Sydney, and linking them with potential clients, investors and mentors.
To help regional startups to travel to Sydney, Jobs for NSW has added a $2,000 travel stipend for Minimum Viable Product grant recipients.
The NSW Government also recently announced a Regional NSW Investment Attraction Package to support businesses wanting to invest and grow in regions.
Regional NSW accounts for 40 per cent of the State’s population and about 33 per cent of its Gross State Product but to date only 1 of 10 NSW startups are located outside of the state’s cities, so there is potential for growth.
The Crossroads report also referenced the $35 million Sydney Startup Hub as a global-scale precinct, and NSW Government plans to develop a major tech precinct between Sydney’s Central Station and Eveleigh to support further growth.
On startup funding, the report referenced the 2018 Techboard annual report which found NSW startups and young technology companies were capturing 43.8 per cent of industry funding ($1.531 billion) which was more than any other state.