Could you be the next Canberra Innovation Grant recipient?

This article was sourced from Canberra Daily written by Bernie Ryan posted on April 10, 2024.

When a new product or service hits the market, many of us kick ourselves in a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. Interestingly, most of us do come up with some great ideas, yet simply don’t know how to navigate them from out of our heads and into reality.

Two years ago, Canberran Teresa Wojcik also had a great idea. And thanks to the suggestion from her partner to apply for the Ideas to Impact and Griffin Accelerator programs offered by the Canberra Innovation Network, (CBRIN), and an Innovation Connection grant, this week Wojcik will soft launch her new enterprise, Your Season.

Your Season is a website that helps people quickly locate and purchase clothing that suits their colour palette. “Your Season is basically an aggregator, like Webjet for air travel”, says Teresa. “The real value add is our unique algorithm which sorts clothing from third-party stores, into your colour palette. This saves you time and the money you might otherwise waste on clothing that ultimately doesn’t suit you”.

Wojcik is quick to add that her successful bid for $30k in matched funding through an Innovation and Connect (ICON) grant round in 2023, plus a further $45k in subsequent investor funding has been pivotal to launching her business this year.

“This funding has paid for so much to get me started. And through CBRIN I’ve been afforded a lot of support building relationships with mentors and investors that I would not have otherwise had,” she says.

Who are The Canberra Innovation Network?

CBRIN is a local not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2014. Hayley Maddox, CBRIN’S Innovation Program Community Officer, says “CBRIN exists for two reasons. One is to help build the innovation ecosystem in Canberra. So, we work with a lot of the education research institutes and the ACT government. And the second is to empower entrepreneurs”.

Maddox adds, “We’re not consultants, or advisors, we won’t tell entrepreneurs how to do business. We focus on giving them the skills, knowledge and network that they need to explore their idea and then progress it if they want to”.

Three of the ways they do this, as was the case for Wojcik, are via the Ideas to Impact Program, the Griffin Accelerator Program and the ICON grants.

Both the Ideas to Impact and Griffin Accelerator programs are free to access but require an application. According to Maddox, Ideas to Impact is best suited to budding entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of testing their ideas and the Griffin Accelerator is better suited to those who are further advanced and want to accelerate their progress. Maddox describes the ICON grants as “A really good option for funding that initial prototyping and research and development”. Grants are awarded in two rounds each year and range from between $10k-$30k in matched funding.

Like Wojcik, Scott Obara, a former digital healthcare professional, who is also a graduate of both programs as well as a 2023 ICON grant recipient, is certain that his idea would not have come to fruition as quickly and successfully, without access to all that CBRIN has to offer.

Obara founded Traceably, an enterprise which enables digital teams to easily collaborate and design solutions which focus on the needs of consumers. “What we’re building is a tool that sits in an organisation’s messy processes and helps them to draw the different pieces and make connections between them. We help them start to see more efficiently how these things have come together and how they can become more seamless” he says.

Obara adds, “I can’t imagine how I would have produced the product without CBRIN and the ICON grant. We never would have been able to do the digital data security audit, that opens opportunities for enterprise clients, which is going to be a big part of our customer base.”

Obara of Traceably at CBRIN’s monthly networking event. Credit: mude

What advice do Obara and Wojcik have for other Canberrans who have a business idea but don’t know where to start?  “Head into CBRIN!” says Obara. “Book your free 30-minute intro session with CBRIN now!” says Wojcik. “It’s a very supportive environment.”

Who knows, your idea too, could be making a difference sooner than you think.

The next Innovation Connect grant round closes April 16 2024.