Innovation hub graduates pitch

NAILED IT: The University of Wollongong's iAccelerate Bega Valley Innovation Hub's first group of graduates with hub manager Mia Maze (centre) in Bega on Thursday night.
NAILED IT: The University of Wollongong's iAccelerate Bega Valley Innovation Hub's first group of graduates with hub manager Mia Maze (centre) in Bega on Thursday night.

Pitching an idea you are passionate about to a room full of possible investors is no easy task.

From constructive screen time for disengaged youth, to treating backyard chickens for parasites, local social and for-profit enterprises pitched their business concepts for the first time last week, after months of mentoring and guidance.

The University of Wollongong's iAccelerate Bega Valley Innovation Hub's first group of graduates fronted a big audience inside the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre on Thursday, June 28, competing for advertising and consultation prizes.

The night's judges, iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa, small business owner, lawyer and Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Kristy McBain and dairy farmer and acting-chair of Bega Cheese Max Roberts, handed the win to skin care business Saarinen Organics.

Mr Khalifa said the focus of many participants had been to "nail it before you scale it", and to "trust in the creative process".

He said he was yet to judge a pitch event with "such a narrow gap" between participants.

"These guys are amazing," he said.

"This is the time where things take off for you in a direction you perhaps didn't expect."

"Eco, sustainability and permaculture are trendy words at the moment, but we live it," Kay Saarinen said.

Greg and Kay Saarinen said their business has had interest from the Asian market, is looking to build a larger manufacturing plant locally, and is aiming to allow local shareholders to invest in its future.

"Part of our business plan is to keep it [the business] in the area,' Ms Saarinen said.

The company is also investigating the use of a polylactic acidstarch based packaging, which could be placed in council compost bins.

Runner-up on the night was William Sharples from the Eden Game Development Centre, while the audience favourite award with 24 per cent of the vote was nurse-driven health service Teen Clinic.

Mr Sharples is aiming to build on the concept and tech practical employable skills to young people disengaged from the traditional education system.

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