WA joins global entrepreneurship program

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Woodside's Shaun Sadler (middle) with Jennifer Halton of CERI. Image - CERI.

A two-year project designed to accelerate the development of the local innovation ecosystem has begun, with a team from Western Australia joining the latest cohort of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration (REAP).

Guided by leading professors and research, the team over the next two years will undertake an examination of the innovation ecosystem in WA by comparing and contrasting its activities and performance with others globally.

WA joins seven other regions in Cohort 9 of the program  – Piaui (a state of Brazil), the Dominican Republic, Hungary and several United States teams – Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines and St Louis.

MIT REAP teams are made up of a range of stakeholders across the regions’ ecosystem, including entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, government and universities.

“Team WA” is made up of representatives from:

  • Woodside Energy;
  • Rio Tinto;
  • Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation;
  • Spacecubed;
  • Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation (CERI);
  • Austmine;
  • Australian Venture Consultants;
  • Malka Foundation;
  • West Tech Fest; and
  • Curtin University.

Most team members travelled to Boston for the first workshop, which was held last week from June 28 to 30. This included sessions with MIT professors and other cohort members.

The workshop is the first of four in-person visits which will take place over the next two years – three at MIT and one in a host country.

Some members of Team WA. From top left clockwise: Shaun Sadler, Brodie McCulloch, Paula Taylor, Rohan McDougall, Jennifer Halton, Larry Lopez and Neil Freeman.

Innovation and ICT Minister Stephen Dawson said the program is part of the state government’s mission to diversify the WA economy by supporting businesses and innovation.

“Our goal is to create jobs through innovation to help diversify the State’s economy, grow new sectors and position WA as the best place for innovators to live and work,” he said.

“Participating in MIT REAP is a chance for Western Australia to examine our own early-stage innovation ecosystem, see where the gaps are, how to fill them and what is best practice around the world. 

By comparing and contrasting ourselves to other regions in the world, we can take what works well elsewhere, what makes sense for Western Australia and try it here.

Stephen Dawson, Minister for Innovation

“Over the next two years, I look forward to seeing how participating in MIT REAP boosts our early-stage innovation system and helps make Western Australia the best place it can be for entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups.”

Woodside Energy Executive Vice President Technical Services, Daniel Kalms, added the company is proud to be a part of Team WA.

“We want to encourage a thriving culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship within the WA industrial ecosystem, not just in Perth but also in more regional areas.

“REAP provides the opportunity to drive a more unified approach to innovation and entrepreneurship in Western Australia which will strengthen our communities and WA’s ability to grow and prosper.”

Nigel Steward, Rio Tinto Chief Scientist, said the program provides a unique opportunity to develop and grow the pool of entrepreneurial talent in WA.

“Rio Tinto has long championed the role of Western Australia’s resources sector in promoting the deployment of cutting-edge technologies like the unprecedented use of automation and robotics at our newest iron ore mine Gudai-Darri, which we opened recently,” he said.

“We’re very proud to support this endeavour, in partnership with the WA Government and our industry colleagues, which we believe has the potential to deliver enormous future benefits for the State’s economy.”

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Curtin University and Spacecubed are both sponsors of Startup News.