AgriStart’s CONNECT program showcase (Report)

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// Now in its second year, CONNECT tackles the challenges of isolation and distance faced by regional innovators…

Despite the uncertainties that COVID-19 brought early in 2020, AgriStart was able to forge ahead this year delivering its 6-month CONNECT program to over 30 selected WA startups across three regions.

Regional innovators took part in a 2-day business bootcamp with masterclasses covering digital marketing, cyber security, export readiness, financial resilience, online systems, capital raising and pitch training.

This year topics also included business resilience for team culture, emotional resilience and thriving during a crisis. 

One of the participants was Emma McPherson, owner of Indian Ocean Sea Vegetables, WA’s first edible sea vegetable farm located in the pristine waters of the south west coastline.

“I feel like our business, and myself personally as a director, have progressed so far in the last 6 months due to all [the] support, amazing organisational skills and incredible knowledge shared during the CONNECT program,” said Emma.

Emma McPherson

Recognising that connection and collaboration are key to supporting and exporting WA innovation, CONNECT also held a number of events.

This included their finale event, the Regional Innovation Showcase, part of West Tech Fest, which was aimed at connecting regional innovators with strategic partners, government stakeholders, industry leaders and investors to give the businesses access to new markets and funding.

Regional Innovation Showcase booths (Source: Image Supplied).

This year’s Showcase was held at the Perth Town Hall earlier this month, where the three regional CONNECT cohorts pitched and displayed their businesses to a crowd of over 150 guests.

One of the pitches featured Geo-Fly, a project involving the development of a green circular economy industrial process to create geopolymer cement from Collie fly-ash waste deposits produced from coal-power stations.

The project looks to reduce carbon emissions and invest in sustainable building materials.

The Geo-Fly project aims to promote job creation by turning WA material wastes into valuable resources (Source: Photo by Dan MacBride Photography).

“Since creation in 2019, we have worked with 200 West Australian businesses to develop their export marketing strategies and over 100 investors looking at investing into WA,” said Chris Bandy, Director for Invest and Trade WA.

“Our network of international officers are spread across the globe and we will work with you to help bring your business case to international networks and we will find you the best fit.

Our tip would be that you need the time to research the market prior to going there, you need the time to spend in the market, and time to develop your products so they are a right fit.”

Chris Bandy

Though the Showcase marks the end of the CONNECT program for this year’s participants they will continue to be supported through AgriStart’s CONNECT alumni.

Feedback from participants about the program list ‘connections with like-minded businesses in their region’ as a major benefit for their business. 

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Learn more about the 2020 CONNECT businesses: agristart.com.au/connect

To register interest for CONNECT the 2021: surveymonkey.com/r/KD2KG2Y

MAIN IMAGE: CONNECT Regional Innovation Showcase being held at the Perth Town Hall. Image Supplied.