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Program to support budding Hunter-based entrepreneurs

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The University of Newcastle (UoN) is calling on innovators across the Hunter to take part in its I2N Accelerator program.

The initiative, now in its second year, takes curious problem solvers, with teams of up to three founders, to become budding entrepreneurs.

It offers them mentorship, networking opportunities, peer-to-peer learning, coworking and a range of workshops led by industry experts.

Delivered by the university’s Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) and supported by Investment NSW through the Boosting Business Innovation Program, the I2N Accelerator is a three-phase program incorporating a pre-accelerator, accelerator and incubator, providing founders the opportunity to refine and then scale their big idea.

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Ian Jones and Keiran James.

“They have consistently built capacity and established a strong community of founders, mentors and facilitators,” assistant director Siobhan Curran said.

“The I2N is seeing a demand from tech-enabled entrepreneurs to not only determine if their idea has market potential and is sustainable, but to take it to the next level and scale their breakthrough products and services globally.”

Ms Curran said the I2N Accelerator program would provide access to industry heavyweights and help founders validate, prototype and then scale their business right here in the Hunter.

“We connect start-ups to community, customers, coaching and capital to help them accelerate to market,” she explained.

“It’s this support that can make or break the success of a new business idea.”

The I2N Accelerator will be delivered out of the university’s purpose-built Q Building in the Newcastle CBD – the epicentre for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

Founders do not need to be connected with the UoN to be eligible for the program.

However, they must be headquartered in the Hunter.

Past Accelerator participate Mikaela Koelma, from Hey Zomi, praised the initiative.

“I know I would not have developed my business, launched our website and made our very first pre-orders available, if I hadn’t been a part of the I2N Accelerator program,” she said.

“By the end of it, I had very tangible evidence of progress and felt incredibly proud to have achieved what I had for Hey Zomi.

“I’m so thankful for this program and the professional opportunities that are now coming my way.

“I feel like I have traction and a plan to grow from here.”

Applications for the I2N Accelerator close on Sunday 30 April.

Go to https://www.newcastle.edu.au/engage/business-and-industry/integrated-innovation-network-i2n/accelerator for more information.

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