The New South Wales government has announced $16.5 million will go towards building a three-storey, 4000 square metre building to house University of Wollongong’s iAccelerate Centre.
Elizabeth Eastland, director of innovation and commercial research at the university, told StartupSmart the funding and building would be a breakthrough for entrepreneurial activity in the Illawarra area.
“The main thing is this will make our activities sustainable. We’ll have a home for our events, activities and incubator. We can continue to develop our offerings and we’re looking at launching an accelerator,” Eastland says.
There will be space for over 280 entrepreneurs to work in the centre at any one time.
Eastland says entrepreneurialism and start-ups have blossomed in the Wollongong area in the past three years, partly due to concerted efforts by the university, NSW government and local community.
In a statement, University of Wollongong’s vice-chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said the building will play a key role in encouraging innovation in the area.
“The Illawarra is a region undergoing radical economic transition with the traditional manufacturing and heavy industrial base facing sharp employment declines. iAccelerate consists of a unique set of programs built around entrepreneurship, innovation and the ICT technology skills of UOW graduates.”
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Eastland adds they launched the iAccelerate program to create new jobs and opportunities for graduates forced to leave Wollongong to find work.
“We realised we had all of these really bright, very talented graduates, especially in ICT, who would love to stay in the region but had to move to find work. We want to support them to create companies and jobs so they can stay here if they want,” Eastland says.
Eastland adds the funding and promised building is very exciting for her team are committed to turning Wollongong into an innovative hub and knowledge powerhouse for NSW and Australia.