iAccelerate’s newest residents hone their skills and ideas
New start-up companies a diverse mix of UOW undergraduates, postgraduates and academics
iAccelerate’s most recent cohort of budding entrepreneurs, in residence at the Innovation Campus facility since December, includes an impressive mix of the UOW community, with undergraduates, postgraduates and academics from a variety of disciplines represented.
A purpose-built business incubator, iAccelerate was designed to provide a home for start-up businesses in their initial phase, while also giving its residents the skills and knowledge they need to develop their ideas.
iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa said he was impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of the new intake, as well as the variety of backgrounds and experiences they represented.
“We have a real mix,” Mr Khalifa said. “Some companies are coming from the community; some are business ideas coming straight from university. Where they have come from is not important to us. What’s important is that they have a passion for what they are trying to do, and that they’re going to be able to stick through the program and get enough out of it to see it through.”
Among the new iAccelerate residents are some of the winners and runners up from the 2016 UOW Pitch competition, in which students and staff pitch their ideas to a panel of academic and industry experts.
“Those who win their categories get a six month scholarship to come in here and work on their idea further,” Mr Khalifa said. “It’s exciting because people can take something they have been working on at university and bring it here and develop it into a potential business opportunity. It’s a great model and something we’d like to see more of. Clearly there are so many great ideas coming out of UOW, from graduates, from postgraduates, from researchers.”
Also in residence at iAccelerate is a team from the Recovery Camp project, Chris Patterson, Dr Dana Perlman and Ellie Taylor (pictured from left to right above). Recovery Camp, a UOW Global Challenges initiative, is a therapeutic recreation camp that helps people with a mental illness while at the same time training the next generation of health professionals. The team will use its residency at iAccelerate to investigate turning the award-winning program into a self-sustaining business with the aim of educating other universities in how to operate the same program.
Team members from iAccelerate companies (top row) InstaShred, eMotion Technology, (middle row) Screen Dopamine, Free Look, MojoElectro, (bottom row) ENGSense and Sooma.
In another first for iAccelerate, a number of engineering students have been given the opportunity to spend three months developing their product ideas, which the University will credit for the work experience component of their course.
“The engineering students have been fantastic. From the initial training sessions onwards they have been enthusiastic and responsive,” Mr Khalifa said.
“This experience will give them a grounding and skills they’ll be able to use wherever they end up down the track. I don’t doubt that some might get a job out of this with some of the other companies here once they see what they are doing and their skills, or there may be an opportunity to further develop their business idea in iAccelerate.
“Our idea is to build capability and resilience in all the people coming here. We want to build their skills individually, and get them thinking about their product or service, as well as the market they are trying to succeed in. Then obviously there’s also the funding issues, the legal issues, the IP protection if there is any, the skills about marketing, about being online. We try to instil all of that as a package to get them started.”
The products being developed at iAccelerate are as varied as the people behind them.
“We are different from a lot of other accelerators and incubators in that we are so diverse,” Mr Khalifa said. “People say, ‘oh, you must be hi-tech’. No, actually there’s very little hi-tech in here. People use the technology, sure, but as far as developing something tech-related it’s not the case at all. We see technology as the enabler.
“The actual products are varied. There are people who are investigating leaks in pipes and people who are investigating an app that helps nurses set up an operating room. We have people working on parenting and others working on 3D printers. We have somebody exploring how to create electricity using fire to recharge your device in an emergency.
“We really try to be non-judgemental – who are we to say what will succeed? It’s up to the market.”
Since its inception in 2012, the iAccelerate program has supported 87 start-up companies, creating more than 200 new jobs.
About the new iAccelerate resident companies:
MojoElectro – Solves the problem of dead batteries by taking different approaches to portable electricity generators, providing a light-weight solution for in the field power generation.
Free Look – Designer of "Look UP", a custom-built drone prototype that helps Roads and Maritime engineers inspect bridges safely and efficiently by eliminating scaffolding and utilising 360-degree high-definition video footage.
Sooma – Virtual Reality glasses for the visually impaired.
Suicide Proof Ceiling Fan
Aussie Books for Zim – A social enterprise that seeks to promote education and improve literacy in remote rural communities in Zimbabwe, collecting new and gently used books, stationery and sports equipment to be shipped to rural schools in Zimbabwe, as well as setting up libraries at the schools.
Recovery Camp – An innovative, evidence-based and award-winning program that operates as both a professional experience placement for students of preregistration health programs and as a recovery-focused experience for those living with a mental illness.
InstaShred – InstaShred aims to create a fully interactive smart guitar, which will teach guitarists at any level using LED lights embedded in the fretboard. A prototype model has already been successfully built, with a new and improved design coming soon. The team are all UOW mechatronic and electrical students with musical backgrounds.
Helping Hand by eMotion Technology – The original concept of our idea was to create a smart rehabilitation glove for stroke/disabled/injury rehabilitation patients. This glove can run through various training/rehabilitation routines for the patient to assist their recovery.
Solid State Systems – The aim of our development is to reduce the time before Emergency Services are made aware of vehicle accidents on Australian roads.
ENGSense – An Internet of Things company dedicated to increasing the efficiency of farms through smart technology. It aims to help solve global food shortages by using automatic fence monitoring and soil testing technology.
eMotion Technology – A Wearable Technology company that seeks to assist those who need a hand in working towards their goal of independence, creating products that can help rehabilitate and re-energise customers so they can live comfortably with whatever injury they have.
Screen Dopamine – A website that allows people to sell their spare time. Users and businesses fill out their profiles and we provide the platform that matches and engages them to each other, connecting them with their perfect audience.
152hq – A company of project managers and system programmers who engineer software solutions, enabling real time recording and reporting of a project’s execution and delivery. Aims to become the construction industry leader in field data collection and real time reporting.
Avatar Technologies – Provides a range of safety and security, WHS, risk management workplace and personal management solutions.