Melbourne Innovation Centre recently hosted the annual Business Innovation & Incubation Australia Member Forum at MIC Greensborough. The forum provided a range of speakers sharing their experiences across a range of relevant areas for incubator managers, including sustainable business incubator models, contemporary business support programs, regional industry clusters and broader regional economic development strategy.

Presentations and Case Studies included:


NORTHLink Executive Director Chris James provided a highly informative presentation on how NORTHLink has acted as a key strategic conduit and policy driver for economic development initiatives across Melbourne’s north since 1995.

Points of note included:

The rapid population growth of the region fast approaching the population of Adelaide reaching 1.3M people by 2031.

- Competitive advantages of the region including land availability and affordability, proximity to Melbourne CBD and Melbourne Airport, Education and Research capability and major transport connections

- Priority industries include food and beverage, freight and logistics, health, professional services, advanced manufacturing and an emerging focus on data analytics and cyber security

- NORTHLink is currently leading and driving a range of key regional initiatives including: Melbourne’s North Food Group, North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub and the Northern Industry Student Placement Program

Melbourne’s North Food Group
Group Manager Tony Coppola outlined the rapid growth and opportunity presented by the food and beverage industry in Melbourne’s north. Established in February 2018, the group has already attracted nearly 100 food manufacturers and supply chain companies.

Points of note from the presentation:

- From a key cluster of 400 Food and Beverage manufacturers turning over in excess of $1M in revenue, it was determined there was potential to double the output of the cluster to $5B and add 7,000 jobs with the support of a strategic industry group.

- Sustainable business model included 22 founding partners providing over $400,000 in cash contributions, in turn matched by Victorian Government co-funding.

- Key role to provide leadership and advocacy for the industry in order to drive growth, productivity and competitiveness. Build export capability, foster innovation, generate new jobs and reduce business costs.

- There has been a very pragmatic program delivery model developed including but not limited to: representation for the region at several local and international trade events resulting in several multimillion dollar contracts, hosting of international delegations, business network briefings and China opportunity seminars.


Vicki – Albany Business Centre

Albany Business Centre is an outstanding example of a highly successful regional Australian Business Incubator. CEO Vicki Browne, provided a presentation identifying how entrepreneurial incubators have to be in order to be sustainable in the longer term.

Key highlights of the presentation included:
- An overview of the business model and revenue sources

-       A list of significant achievements including the purchase of their incubator site

-       Sustainable business model developed in a region of 33,000 people


Karina Dambergs – Van Diemen Project

Van Demien Project is one of the newest business incubation and coworking programs in Australia. Established in Tasmania in September 2016, co-founders of the initiative Karina Dambergs and Chris Davis have hit the ground running establishing several highly relevant and contemporary business and entrepreneur support programs.

In her presentation, Karina outlined how from both a virtual and physical business incubator and accelerator program focus, they have been able to support emerging businesses within Tasmania.

In addition, Van Diemen Project has leveraged several government funded programs such as the ASBAS Digital Solutions program, Enterprise Centres Tasmania and Entrepreneurship Facilitators initiative to build a sustainable model and brand equity across the region.

From an incubation and acceleration perspective, VDP runs three key programs:
Propel: A five day intensive program to launch new enterprises over 18 pointed sessions

Emerge: A six week program providing essential business theory applied directly to existing or new businesses run out of Cowork Launceston.

Business Bootcamp: Two day intensive program with practical tips, tools and techniques needed to start, scale and grow a business.