Bega Valley Shire Council in New South Wales is amongst the latest recipients of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Incubator Support Initiative, sharing in over $1 million of grant funding to support start-ups and businesses.

Following the Black Summer bushfires, the Bega Valley Innovation Hub was a beacon for local businesses, offering timely and valuable advice on digital adoption and innovation, to implement new ideas and create opportunities for recovery.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme has a history with the hub, providing grant funding of $382,000 to the University of Wollongong (UoW) to establish the hub in 2018. The hub is now run by the Bega Valley Shire Council, and the new grant funding of $250,000 will allow council to build on the expertise of UoW and its specialised iAccelerate programs. This project will extend the hub’s reach and play a strong role in boosting innovation in the region, opening up new sectors and opportunities for start-ups.

The Hub is a thriving community of like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors. It has been a lifeline to start-ups and businesses seeking new tools and skills to recover from not just the fires, but also the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the businesses that have flourished as a result of the hub’s guidance, are South Coast wellness entrepreneurs, Kay Saarinen of Saarinen Organic Skincare, and Jo Lane, founder of Sea Health Products. Both women have put their best face forward - collaborating on a project to produce a unique antiseptic-based handcream using seaweed. Both businesses have also turned to the program’s Strengthening Business service to continue their growth.

Having the support of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Bega Valley Innovation Hub, as well as talking to other local businesses owners like Kay, you find reassurance and feel more confident, and you really feel like, ‘I can do this’!


Jo Lane, Owner of Sea Health Products

What projects are being funded?


5 Australian incubators have been offered funding from the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Their projects include:

  • The Bega Valley Innovation Hub will build on and expand their successful regional innovation incubator model.
  • CoHort Space Pty Ltd will develop one of the Queensland’s first health and wellness accelerator programs.
  • The City of Adelaide’s Smart City Accelerator Program is designed to unlock industry development and economic growth by creating opportunities for urban technology trials in Adelaide.
  • Hatch Quarter will use their grant to support first generation migrant and refugee start-ups looking to expand into the Middle East and North Africa region.
  • Western Sydney University will establish their accelerator program in Sydney with a specific focus on supporting first generation, migrant and refugee tech start-ups.

The Incubator Support Initiative


Under the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, the Incubator Support Initiative provides grant funding to incubators which support Australian start-ups with an international focus through two program streams: New and Existing Incubators, and Expert in Residence.

New and Existing Incubators grants support incubators to deliver high-quality services for start-ups, improving their chances of commercial success in international markets. It also has provisions for incubators to partner with support organisations to assist first-generation migrant and refugee founders to establish their business both nationally and internationally, and assist start-ups with a regional focus to expand and scale their business.

Expert in Residence grants support incubators to access top quality research, technical and managerial expertise through secondments of national and international experts.

Want more?

Read about Kay and Jo, two businesswomen from the NSW South Coast recovering from the Black Summer Bushfires together.

Find out more about the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Incubator Support Initiative and funding opportunities.

Subscribe to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with news and information.