Female-led business start-ups in the region will have the opportunity to turbo-charge their start-up thanks to a free Female Founders Program to be run by the University of Newcastle’s I2N.
The program, which recently opened for applications, will support a minimum of 10 female-led founders from the Hunter and Central Coast regions with training workshops, tailored mentoring, and support through I2N’s network.
Assistant Director of I2N, Siobhan Curran said the program, which is supported by the NSW Government, will help women who are currently under-represented in the entrepreneurial space to accelerate their innovation and learn the skills to create a successful start-up idea.
“Around 32 per cent of our I2N program participants are female-founded businesses,” Siobhan said.
“While this sits above the industry average of 20 per cent, we want to see this figure rise and level the playing field for female innovators and entrepreneurs in the region.
“It’s a great opportunity for local women who have that spark of an idea to give their for-profit or social enterprise start-up a boost and see where it can take them.”
Siobhan explained that during the course of the program, participants are set to take part in workshops to help them to understand their value proposition and the market for their business.
“They will learn how to get traction as a start-up and gain the business skills to help them model cash flow projections and structure their business as it grows – critical skills for a new business venture,” Siobhan said.
“The Female Founders Program will boost the volume of female-led businesses in our regional ecosystem, creating positive economic and social impact.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Industry and Engagement, Warwick Dawson explained the University’s role as being uniquely positioned to support, connect, and grow innovation in the region.
“Through I2N, the University of Newcastle is incredibly proud to facilitate the Female Founders Program, which provides a boost to the volume of female-led businesses in our regional ecosystem,” Warwick said.
“The Female Founders Program will help grow a vibrant and connected innovation ecosystem that will generate mutually beneficial relationships between entrepreneurs, innovators and the people who support them.”
Central Coast-based start-up founder, Lisa Winn is a previous participant in the Female Founders Program.
She created Ihydrate, a saliva-based personal hydration test that replaces intrusive blood or urine tests and explained how the program helped her to build her network and develop a start-up mindset to help her business idea succeed.
“It’s different when it’s your own endeavour, it’s harder to be objective, so you need to surround yourself with a network of people that understand where you’re at and where you’re going,” Lisa said.
“I had so many ‘ah-ha’ moments throughout the program, things I may have encountered in my corporate career but have a completely different application in start-up.
“The advice I’ve had and connections I’ve made through this program have been incredible.”
The University of Newcastle is ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world according to two global independent ranking systems, and in the top 200 universities in the world for medicine.