What is Hunter iF?
A collaboration of key organisations and individuals in the Hunter involved with innovation, who are working together to build a more effective way of nurturing world class innovation for the benefit of the regional economy. Those involved include innovators, businesses, educational institutions, investors, governments and service providers. It supports all those engaged in innovation, including startups and established industry. We believe that innovation is important to build a stronger, fairer and more sustainable future.
Why Hunter iF?
The Hunter innovation ecosystem is large, involving over 100 organisations. This makes it complex and often fragmented. Hunter iF will coordinate our innovation effort across the Hunter, for more effective outcomes. It will support and complement those already working in the space, as an umbrella organisation, under a collaborative model. Hunter iF is about creating a healthier innovation ecosystem, with a key aim to generate quality jobs for the Hunter, with an emphasis on ‘quality’.
The Hunter innovation ecosystem is large, involving over 100 organisations. This makes it complex and often fragmented.Grant Sefton
What unique services will Hunter iF offer?
We believe Hunter iF is unique in Australia, for adopting a broad based, collaborative and inclusive regional strategy to embrace and nurture innovation. It involves people from key areas of the ecosystem: local innovators; established industry; business services; investors; university; and government. We will provide more efficient methods for those engaged in innovation to connect with the right people quickly, and it will facilitate new world-class ideas. We will do this through a series of events and programs. Our newly appointed Project coordinator, Dan Farthing, will be on the ground to assist with the connection process. We are developing training programs for investors and investees in the innovation space, and we will create a body of mentors to help those requiring assistance.
Where is it based?
As our aim is to connect and collaborate with the regional innovation space, we do not have a single location. Our Project Co-Ordinator, Dan Farthing, can be found at the co-working spaces of our supporters, ensuring we have feet on the ground where the action and ideas are often found.
How is it funded?
Hunter iF is run voluntarily by numerous contributors. Last year we received seed funding from City of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie City, University of Newcastle, Hunter Founders Forum, Newcastle Now, CSIRO and Hunter New England Health as well as considerable other support from AusIndustry, Hunter Angels, Eighteen04 and Australian Industry Group. We have now secured funding from Jobs for NSW to deliver our program for 2019, as well as financial support from City of Newcastle to deliver training to potential investors and investees. We welcome funding contributions from others who wish to support our vision and programs.
What’s on the agenda?
In 2019 we will launch a new website that showcases Hunter innovation. It will be a go-to resource to better connect startups, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and service providers. We will run workshops for investors and investees, to provide a better understanding of the investment process and opportunities. We'll be putting on some events including a hackathon and pitch events. We will also build a program to identify and utilise the skills and experiences of mentors to assist innovators.
What is the biggest challenge for Hunter innovators at present?
Developing an idea into a successful business is hard work. Innovators need to connect with people who have experience in building successful innovation, because collaborating with others greatly improves growth and success. The innovation sector in the Hunter is large, but it is often fragmented and uncoordinated, which we aim to fix. There is also a shortage of capital investment in the space, which we are also seeking to address.
What sectors offer most potential for startups?
Great ideas come from any sector and Hunter iF seeks to nurture them. The Hunter has particular opportunity in engineering, energy (including cleantech), infotech, defence, aerospace, biomed and manufacturing.
How do you rate the Hunter as a startup region?
We can be immensely proud of our achievements in innovation. However, the level of disruption is high throughout the world, and we need to continually innovate to build jobs and wealth for all. The Hunter has an amazing list of features that makes it ideal for nurturing innovation, including a strong sense of community, powerful networking, a great university and TAFE, strong engineering and manufacturing, an enviable lifestyle, well-developed arts scene, relatively low costs and proximity to Sydney. The region is motivated, educated, well connected, well located and passionate, with a ‘can-do’ attitude. I look forward to us all benefiting from achieving the vision of Hunter iF that by 2025 the Hunter will be internationally acknowledged as a thriving centre of innovation that has successfully transitioned into an entrepreneurial knowledge-based economy.