Entrepreneur Asha Brown at RISE iAccelerate Eurobodalla pitch competition

iAccelerate’s RISE program wins Benefitting Society award

iAccelerate’s RISE program wins Benefitting Society award

UOW business incubator recognised at Green Gown Awards Australasia

The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator iAccelerate has received the prestigious Benefitting Society award at Green Gown Awards Australasia for its RISE program, recognising iAccelerate’s impactful work for innovative community engagement, particularly in regional areas affected by the ‘black summer’ bushfires.

Green Gown Awards celebrate outstanding sustainability initiatives in higher education institutions worldwide, aligning their efforts with the United Nations’ Global Goals. These awards, supported by the UN Environment, aim to set a higher standard for sustainability and environmental stewardship.

The Benefitting Society category acknowledges the innovative ways educational institutions contribute to society through economic, social and environmental impacts. iAccelerate has been praised for its transformative impact on new start-ups and deliberate efforts to include a range of diversity and support regional and First Nations communities. 

The Green Gown Awards jury also highlighted that RISE program's holistic approach has been fostering a sense of belonging, empowerment and inclusion within regional communities while providing essential entrepreneurial support for existing businesses, start-ups, not-for-profits and social enterprises.

Rebecca Duldig, Acting Director of iAccelerate, said it was an honour to have received the Benefitting Society award by Green Gown Awards Australasia, especially with so many amazing changemakers in the sector.

“We are so proud of our team, which continues to deliver real impact and positive change in the regions, championing responsible innovation and sustainable growth. To truly lift up our community through entrepreneurship, we must link with our regional and rural entrepreneurs to expand our innovation ecosystem.

“RISE is our Regional Entrepreneurs education program, which has so far supported 90 entrepreneurs and business owners in bushfire-affected areas to create 300 new jobs. We saw first-hand the strength and tenacity of rural communities after the black summer bushfires and how their innovative approach served to revive and rebuild what was lost,” Ms Duldig said.

iAccelerate has been delivering entrepreneurial programs in regional NSW since 2016 through its partnership with the Bega Valley Innovation Hub. In 2022, the program was expanded with the introduction of RISE to boost economic resilience in bushfire-affected areas.

In June, the business incubator received a $455,000 grant from the NSW Government as part of the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund to further support the RISE program. It will continue its expansion in 2024 with a particular focus on fisheries and aquaculture, advanced manufacturing, circularity, ecotourism, and high-quality food production sectors.

As winners, iAccelerate will automatically be put forward for the International Green Gown Award for Benefitting Society.