UOW lays a golden egg for Illawarra economy

Dreams can come true: Elizabeth Eastland was excited to see the vision she was involved with from the beginning become a reality at the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus. Picture: Robert Peet.The opening of the iAccelerate buildingis the beginning of an excitingnew chapter for Wollongong.
Nanjing Night Net

Founding chief executive Elizabeth Eastlandsaid the facility is everything she had hoped for whenher first task was to help people believe this could happen in the Illawarra.”I went to Waterloo andbrought back the vision.I not only wanted to make it happen but I wanted to create so much momentum that it would continue to grow,” she said.

Ms Eastland believes thatmomentum has begun. She is proud of what everyone involved from the community has achieved and excited about what it all means for the future.”It is not just a building. It is a symbol. It is spectacular. I think itwill be the start of a transformation and a movement within the Illawarra,” she said.

Ms Eastland sees iAccelerate as a beacon andDestination Wollongong’sMark Sleigh agreedsaying it is alandmark for acity of innovation.”The energy the building brings with it and the way people will bounceoff each otheris absolutely incredible”.

The Illawarra Connection president Roger Summerill described it as amilestone moment thatreinforcesthe importance of the university.”This is going to help accelerate the future growth of this city and region. Thewhole innovation campus is encouraging people to come and invest”.

NSW Business Chamber national corporate relations managerJo Spencer said it wasfocusing more national attention on Wollongong and its stand-out university.

“This is such an advantage for the city and for entrepreneurial startups and for students to get into innovative projects. It is really an important part of Wollongong’s future as it moves towards a knowledge economy,” she said.

RDA Illawarra chief executiveDebra Murphy said iAccelerate isalready bringing more vibrancy.”It means there are more growth opportunities now and a placefor businesses with seed ideas to flourish,” she said.

i3net executive officer Tony Green said “anything that will help grow new manufacturing businesses that canprovide opportunities for ourlocal industry is awesome”.

Ai Groupregional manager Leanne Grogan said it provided great opportunities foradvanced manufacturing.”iAccelerate is not just about startup companies. If a company has a good innovative idea they can actually put someone in here to develop that”.

Speaking for Advantage Wollongong,involvingUOW, council and the Department of Industry, Wollongongeconomic development manager Mark Grimson said it is an important moment forthe city’s evolution into the new knowledge economy that willmean our best and brightest do not have to leave.

“Thisprovides a further opportunity for Wollongong to showcase itself and promote itself and for people to see it in a different light. I think in many ways Wollongong is really coming of age and facilities like this just reinforce the many exciting things that are happening,” Mr Grimsonsaid.

iAccelerate chief executive OmarKhalifasaid iAccelerate willattract businesses, research and investment to a region becoming an innovation hub. And at a time when the changing demand on the workforce is being rapidly accelerated like never before.

“It is estimated that over the next 20 years 40 per cent of the jobs that exist today will no longer exist,” he said.

Ms Khalifa said that means we have to invent new jobs and a facility such as iAccelerate will help do that.

“It is a bold initiative that seeks to embrace the future and prepare the entire Illawarra for it,” he said.

University of Wollongong vice chancellor ProfessorPaul Wellings said iAccelerate willplaceWollongong wellfor a future that will be transformedby new enterprises and new companies we are yet to dream about.It is a space where many of those dreams can happen.

Prof Wellings said the vision is for iAccelerate to create 500 direct and 1000 indirect jobs by the end of the decade and attract an additional $70 million of investment to the regionaleconomy.

He said last week iAccelerate hosted an International Symposium on regional innovation and global leader on entrepreneurship Prof JerryEngel, of the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley,saw iAccelerate playing an important role in developing a strong and robust economy with an ability to adapt to change in an uncertain world.

Deputy vice-chancellor (research)Professor Judy Raperthinks of the purpose builtincubator and accelerator as a golden egg for the Wollongong economy. It will assistthe rapid growth of new businesses andattractother businessand investment to the region.Since 2012 the initiative has supported 65 startup companies which have created 143 jobs.

NSW Industry minister Anthony Roberts said the University of Wollongong contributed $2 billion into the national economic output in a state thatalready accounted for 50 per cent of national startups.

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iAccelerate building at Wollongong Innovation Campus nears completion: photosMark Bouris impressed with iAccelerate buildingSimon Kersten talks about how iAccelerate will help attract more business.How a Wollongong startup being moved into the iAccelerate building is being nationally recognisedA look at the iAccelerate building as it neared completionElizabeth Eastland speaking about iAccelerate in late 2015.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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