A popular program is helping small businesses in Canberra turn their dreams into a reality. 

Canberra Innovation Network is the organisation supporting entrepreneurs on their journey to develop customer-ready products and services. And in April this year, they supported the growth of seven amazing business ventures. 


A speaker from Canberra Innovation Network © Canberra Innovation Network


The program

Innovation Connect (ICON) was introduced by the Canberra Innovation Network way back in 2008. Since then, the grant program has supported more than 300 companies in the Canberra region to build their programs and impact their reality. 

Canberra Innovation Network works alongside the ACT Government to provide this grant to early-stage businesses. The funding, matched between $10,000 – $30,000, is intended to be used in the development of prototyping, testing, patenting and commercialization of the recipients’ concepts. In fact, the ACT Government recently announced that Innovation Connect would continue to receive funding over the next two years as part of their 2023-24 budget, highlighting the importance of this program. 

According to Petr Adamek, CEO of the Canberra Innovation Network, “Over the years we have seen exciting growth in the depth and diversity of innovations that Canberra entrepreneurs put forward to be co-funded by the Innovation Connect Grants. These projects may not yet be ready for investors or demanding customers. And that is where the grant plays a critical role of a catalyst in the growth of future innovation-driven companies.”


A networking event © Canberra Innovation Network


The projects 

Every project selected for ICON is chosen due to its creativity and innovation. These projects attempt to solve everyday challenges and improve the society around them.

Every year, over 10,000 people engage in events, programs and educational courses run by the Canberra Innovation Network. Services are aimed at developing an entrepreneurial voice and expanding the impact of companies. And ICON is a major part of this plan. 

Previous recipients of ICON include Dr Stephen Trowell, Founder and Managing Partner of PPB Technology. Since being awarded the shared grant in November 2018, Stephen has developed a lactose test that provides accurate trace information within minutes.

“At a very early stage, the ICON grant was pivotal in helping us establish and grow. We have now raised over a million dollars and are well on our way to growth and success. Receiving the ICON grant now would make little difference to us but at the time we received it, the cash and validation it provided are what helped us survive,” he says. 


Canberra Innovation Network

© Canberra Innovation Network


The potential

In April 2023, seven local businesses received a share of $238,000 in funding to support the development of their ambitious concepts. The recipients span across a range of industries and interests, yet each is committed to changing their worlds and leaving a lasting impact. 

One such company is Sitedata. Sitedata’s system uses computer vision and machine learning to identify safety risks and hazards on construction sites in real time. It also compiles data and statistics for EHS assessments and reporting, ensuring the process is simple and accurate for construction businesses. 

Future Swirl, which is known for selling handcrafted oat milk soft serve and sundaes, also received a grant to develop their take-home tubs. The oat milk ice cream is made without additives, and is already proving to be wildly popular.

Similarly, Berrijam is an AI platform that helps businesses use technology to develop insights and predictions. The platform is simple and easy to use, making AI support accessible for all. 

While these are only some of the grant recipients, they highlight the wide range of backgrounds and services that ICON supports. The Canberra Innovation Network hopes that the funding will help entrepreneurs reach their potential, and continue to shape innovation in Australia. 

To discover even more innovative business ventures, click here.