New funding round aims to boost regional SMEs

Small businesses in regional areas could be set to benefit from a new round of workshop and networking funding launched by Enterprise Connect.


The latest round of the Workshops, Industry Intelligence & Networking scheme is offering grants of up to $50,000 to providers of workshops, seminars and networking to small businesses.


The focus of the new funding push is aiding SMEs in regional and remote areas. Previous WIIN funding rounds have focused on areas such as clean technology, the GFC and disaster recovery.


Established in early 2010, the WIIN scheme is aimed at bridging skills and networking gaps among small businesses. It’s administered by Enterprise Connect which, in turn, is part of the Department of Innovation.


Judith Zielke, head of the Enterprise Connect division, told StartupSmart that WIIN was a competitive process that typically provided grants to between 20 and 60 applicants during each funding round.


“We don’t have a limit – we are looking for the best provider, whether that’s training organisers or industry associations, to help businesses with an innovative need,” she says.

“We established WIIN because SMEs experience difficulty in both time and money getting the right information to grow their businesses. We also want to act as an independent reference point when recommending good business advisors.”


Zielke says that Enterprise Connect aims to increase the help available to SMEs beyond suburban areas and large regional centres.


“We want to encourage providers to expand their services in regional Australia,” she says. “There’s always a problem in that it’s harder to organise small events, but we want to help with that.”


“Small businesses often have to travel a long way to network or find help. We have to do more in this area. Success to us is connecting companies that then increase their knowledge. The best learning is from peers.”


“The response among companies to WIIN has been very positive. It helps supply chains and peer groups have formed from the workshops.”


Zielke adds that although Enterprise Connect’s eligibility requirements for all its programs demands that a business has a turnover of $2 million to $100 million, the minimum figure for regional and remote businesses can be as low as $750,000.


The deadline for the latest funding round is May 19. For more information, click here.


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