Innovation grants here to help launch Canberra’s next round of big ideas

Are you a Canberran with an awesome idea, but just need a leg-up to help get it off the ground?

Then you could be eligible for an Innovation Connect (ICON) Grant of up to $30,000 now on offer to early stage innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups to help kick-start their journey.

The Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) delivers the ICON Grant program on behalf of the ACT Government which matches funding of $10,000-$30,000 to help companies develop and prepare their product or service for investment or commercialisation.

CBRIN is committed to helping local start-ups – and Canberrans will be able to taste for themselves the results of Andrea Butler’s big idea on 1 September when she launches Bakesale, an online marketplace for home-cooked baked goods.

An award-winning baker, CWA judge, and Most Successful Exhibitor at the Royal Canberra Show in 2019 and 2020, Andrea has already taken part in the Idea to Impact workshops, and now hopes to gain an ICON grant.

CBRIN’s Idea to Impact workshops support entrepreneurs at any stage of an innovative project. They help explore market opportunities and make progress with customers.

The 10-week program provides practical tools required to master the art of turning ambitious ideas into high-impact ventures. Applications for the next workshops are also now open.

Andrea says if she is successful in gaining an ICON grant, the funds will boost her platform that aims to professionalise the home-baking market and help bakers connect with their local customers.

“We provide an exciting alternative to mass-baked goods that supports our local bakers, provides more unique options, and ultimately tastes better,” she says.

“Bakesale hits that sweet-spot of connecting local bakers with an online platform to showcase and sell their amazing, home-baked creations, and buyers who are looking for that extra special something, made with love.”

Funded by an entrepreneur’s scholarship from the ACT Government, Andrea attended the Idea to Impact workshops and CBRIN mentoring and events that deliver connections for entrepreneurs, including First Wednesday Connect.

“As a female founder, the Female Founders events have been particularly enriching to my role as it gives me connection in what is an isolating pursuit,” Andrea says.

Bakesale makes the sales process easy for home-bakers by providing the platform, storefront, infrastructure, support and education, events, marketing and delivery/pick-up functionality.

Past ICON grants have assisted a range of local innovations, including the development of a fatigue and cardiovascular monitoring system for heavy vehicle drivers using an ECG monitor embedded in the steering wheel, and helped build and launch the world’s first glass 3D printer.

Grants have also provided a leg-up for a weight-room performance analytics tool for high school and college sport coaches and helped creators of sustainable fungi leather to replace animal leather in fashion. ICON grants have even kick-started businesses producing non-alcoholic cocktails and craft beer!

CBRIN aims to empower entrepreneurs and businesses to build on Canberra’s excellence in research and innovation to create social and economic benefits for citizens.

Network chief operating officer Sharyn Smith says Canberra’s start-ups continually show their diversity, breadth and creative thinking with their inspired solutions.

“The everyday problems that we face as a society are confronted head-on by the innovative changemakers that we are so fortunate to have in our city. These ideas are changing the way we do things for the better.”

The Idea to Impact program will run from 7 September until 2 November and applications close on 31 August. The ICON grant applications close 16 September. Start-ups are invited to contact the Canberra Innovation Network to apply.

Article written by Katrina Condie for RiotAct