Searching for South West Victoria’s next entrepreneurs

News date:

This is the date and time that this news article was published.

The South West region is on the search for its next generation of entrepreneurs with the support of a $275,000 LaunchVic grant. Aspiring South West entrepreneurs can join a fully funded pre-accelerator program that will provide expert guidance in bringing their innovative ideas to market. 

The program is a partnership between the Warrnambool City, Moyne Shire and Corangamite Shire Councils, South West TAFE, Food and Fibre Great South Coast, and ManuFutures Deakin University. Warrnambool, Corangamite and Moyne Shire’s collaborative application was one of only four regional locations to receive funding.

Program participants will join Deakin University’s highly successful Ignite pre-accelerator program. Ignite is a one of many new incubator programs offered through Deakin University’s ManuFutures, an advanced manufacturing hub supporting regional businesses to improve competitiveness and create new market opportunities. The first intake of Ignite participants will be in early 2023 at Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus. 

The program consists of workshops, seminars and presentations from industry leaders and past and current successful entrepreneurs. Those participating will find out how to take their business innovation or entrepreneurial idea and turn it into a start-up business. All ideas, no matter what industry sector or type will be supported to develop and scale up new products and operations.

LaunchVic is Victoria’s start-up agency and the program is targeting regional areas because only 3 per cent of start-ups are based in regional Victoria, despite being 25 per cent of Victoria's population. LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick explained how the latest funding would be crucial in addressing these statistics:

"Connecting entrepreneurs in Victoria's regions with innovators and other like-minded people is vitally important to build a strong culture of startup creation. This funding round is focused on supporting the growth of Victoria's regional startup sector and giving people the support to grow tech startups – no matter where they live in the State."

Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford noted that regional startups had an exciting role to play in the State’s growth story:

"Regional startups have an immense potential to contribute to Victoria's early-stage innovation ecosystem and economy, which has doubled in value in the past year to $23.6 billion.

Prospective participants will be able to lodge an expression in the coming weeks. In the meantime, updates will be published at and on the Ideas Place social media channels. Any enquiries can be forwarded to  

Cr Debbie Arnott, Mayor, Warrnambool City Council 
“Since 2020, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the attitudes people have towards many aspects of their lives, including how they work, and there’s no better time than now to develop your innovative business idea. This program aims to maximise the potential of these entrepreneurial ideas and to allow their creators to grow their business in the South West.”

Cr Ruth Gstrein, Mayor, Corangamite Shire Council
“This program proudly brings together three municipalities to discover entrepreneurial start-up potential in the South West. The funding will build the region’s foundations in various sectors with a network of qualified experts guiding the way. We are excited to see innovative business ideas inspire communities.” 

Cr Ian Smith, Mayor, Moyne Shire Council
“Working together and supporting entrepreneurs and start-up business in our community will help us all unlock the enormous potential for growth in our region and attract new and exciting investments. With our neighbours at Warrnambool City and Corangamite Shire as well as partner organisations, we are putting the south-west region on the map, supporting the best and brightest and connecting them with other likeminded people to help them grow and build an innovative culture within our region.”

Alistair McCosh, Director Warrnambool Campus, Deakin University
“Deakin University welcomes the opportunity to partner with Warrnambool City, Corangamite and Moyne Shire, South West TAFE and several key industry organisations in the delivery of the LaunchVic regional start up program. We thank the Victorian State Government on providing the funds and we look forward to collectively seeing new startups tap into the expertise the partners can bring to this exciting project over the coming year.”

Mark Curnow, Director of Regional Manufacturing, Deakin University
“Expanding our programs into the Warrnambool region will allow us to encourage and nurture the innovators of the future, as well as help revive manufacturing, in Victoria and the South-West region. We are thankful to the team at Warrnambool City Council and LaunchVic for supporting our vision.”

Mark Fidge, CEO, South West TAFE
“South West TAFE is pleased to be part of this new entrepreneur pre-accelerator program. We see it being of particular benefit to some of our graduating students, as well as former students now working in industry. By working with our regional partners and growing the region’s entrepreneur numbers, we build capacity and experience locally.”

Natalie Collard, CEO, Food and Fibre Great South Coast
“It’s a testament to our vibrant region and shared commitment to unlocking growth and innovation that six organisations are working together to attract new investment in the people of our region. We thank Warrnambool City Council for leading this initiative and look forward to the value these entrepreneurs will foster across our regional industries.” 

Gareth Colliton, Producer, One Day Studios 
“It's exciting to have The Ideas Place back supporting more people to develop contemporary businesses, and expanding our region's reputation as a centre of innovation. In 2019 we saw fledgling businesses go from concept to national leaders in their fields, and I can't wait to see what this new round brings!”