Over the past eight weeks a group of Riverina locals have been taking part in regional Australia’s first incubator program. They entered with goals of forming structure around their ideas, leveraging digital technologies to enhance their current small businesses, and seeking investment to build out possible future technology needs that may need to follow.
Incubate at 35 Degrees was formed by serial entrepreneurs Simone Eyles (365Cups and Working Spaces HQ) and Dianna Somerville (RGTC Group and Regional Pitchfest), two individuals pioneering the tech scene in the country, particularly in Wagga Wagga and surrounding communities.
For those unfamiliar with the term, incubation is simply a methodology used when growing an idea into a business.
An incubator program is a fast and efficient way to learn how to leverage resources like the internet and technology in a short time frame to produce maximum results. This in turn helps make a business scalable, which is one of the core definitions of what a startup is supposed to look like.
Incubation works across all industries and sectors; the first cohort from Wagga Wagga featured a varied collection of businesses, including everything from group fitness to agriculture ,as well as social impact ventures in industries such as aged care.
This past Monday the eight participants pitched to a private VIP audience that included potential investors, collaborators, customers, and connectors. The demo / pitch night another first of its kind, in that this particular incubation format was supported by both local and national companies looking for opportunities to leverage within regional Australia.
The major supporter for the program was Commonwealth Bank.
“We are excited to be supporting innovation at a time when more and more tech-savvy farmers and agri operators are looking for innovative ways to integrate technology into their businesses,” said Tim Harvey, Acting Executive General Manager, Regional and Agribusiness Banking.
Eyles and Somerville have also confirmed that the incubator program will be running again in 2017, saying there is already a list of interested parties keen to participate.
“After six years of promoting entrepreneurship and its opportunities for regional areas, it is fantastic to see things progressing,” said Eyles. “As the business community and council start to grasp the economic benefit of growing startups in the region, the celebration of local people innovating is becoming more prevalent within the Riverina.”
The incubator is the latest in a string of activities enhancing Wagga’s position as a thought-leader in technology and innovation. It follows on from the recent launch of Silicon Paddock, of which Eyles and Somerville are both ambassadors, and the tech alliance formed between the City of Sydney and Wagga Councils.