Local start-ups and small businesses have the opportunity to be part of CONNECT South West Innovation Hub in 2021.
A community of selected businesses will be brought together to receive six months of training from expert business facilitators, one-on-one sessions with an individually matched business mentor, and be immersed into a high profile network of investors, industry, and government.
The South West CONNECT Hub program is worth more than $10 000 and will be free for the selected businesses thanks to funding received by Innovation Cluster, a local South West purpose driven business, and their successful bid to fund the Hub through the State Government's GroundSwell grant program.
GroundSwell was launched to assist small regional businesses accelerate their growth, create jobs, become more globally competitive and ride out the effects of COVID-19.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said getting start-ups and small business off the ground was difficult at the best of times especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Tthe GroundSwell program is about ensuring we build our regional talent and support innovative businesses," she said.
As a South West business, Innovation Cluster understands the challenges of isolation and distance faced by regional businesses located far from the opportunities and networks in major cities.
It aims to keep the CONNECT Hub as a free program for start-ups and small businesses who do not have funding avenues due to being early stage.
The South West CONNECT Hub offers these start-ups an expert packed schedule aimed at accelerating business growth including a two-day business bootcamp and fortnightly masterclasses covering digital marketing, cyber security, export readiness, funding business growth, financial resilience, capital raising, intellectual property, and pitch training.
The selected businesses have free access to a co-working space in Busselton for the duration of the program.
CONNECT also comprises a number of events including a local Busselton pitch event, and for the last two years - the Regional Innovation Showcase, a 250 plus event at Perth Town Hall, that connects South West businesses with strategic partners, government stakeholders, industry leaders and investors to give the businesses access to new markets and funding.
This is third year of South West Connect Regional Hub with Innovation Cluster supporting over 20 innovative South West businesses included Bindi Nutrition, Rok Kombucha , Rocky Ridge Brewing, Kooyar Wongi, Ciphertel, Margaret River Hemp Co and Vasse Valley Hemp Farm.
Bindi Nutrition owner Belinda Davis said the program was unique and challenging and allowed participants to work to the level of their business.
"The collaboration and networking was invaluable, as was the ability to work with a skilled and specialised mentor throughout the year," she said.
"Innovation Cluster is uniquely positioned in the business world to facilitate this program and I was hugely honoured to be part of the hub."
Vasse Valley Hemp Farm owner Bronwyn Blake said the CONNECT HUB gave her the skills and confidence to take their business to the next level.
"Definitely recommend any new business to take part in one of Innovation Cluster's programs," she said.