By Narelle Coulter

The economic potential of startups is set to be harnessed in the Casey Cardinia Region with a new initiative called the INNovation Crowd.

A committee of educators, business people and representatives of both councils under the lead of the City of Casey has been working on the project for nearly a year and hope to launch the initiative in July.

Digital strategist and mentor Judy Pridmore is one of the committee members.

The committee also includes representatives from Federation Uni and Casey Technical School and local businesses like Successful Endeavours and Gaia Skin Naturals.

Ms Pridmore said the vision was to create a startup ecosystem in the Casey Cardinia Region giving entrepreneurs and those who want to work in the startup field access to mentoring, networking events and the chance for collaboration close to home.

Ms Pridmore said the committee had discussed a range of initiatives to “really generate an eco-system“.

Initiatives will include meet up groups, hackathons and startup boot camps to fill a gap in the region.

Federation Uni will host workshops and training opportunities, with the soon to be opened Casey TAFE providing unique spaces and technology for startups.

Much of what can be achieved under the INNovation Crowd umbrella depends on funding from Launch Vic, an independent body set up by the State Government in 2016 to support the incubation of Victorian startups

Whether the region has been successful in its funding application will be known in the next few weeks.

Ms Pridmore said if successful the committee hoped to be able to fund an expert entrepreneur in residence at co-working spaces like the The Waterman Centre in Narre Warren.

She said even if the region’s funding application was unsuccessful, the INNovation Crowd would go ahead in a scaled back form.

Federation University Senior Lecturer Dr Tim Harrison said the university was proud to be a partner of the INNovation Crowd project.

“We see it as an important part of our connection the Casey-Cardinia community and it provides an opportunity to demonstrate the role that an engaged higher education provider and its people can play in local economic development, “ Dr Harrison said.

“Internationally there is great interest in the start-up and micro business sector and it has been identified that there is a need to nurture these new and increasingly influential wealth generators. “

He said FedUni hoped to host a number of opportunities to promote learning and collaboration including ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and targeted masterclasses.

“The INNovation Crowd provides an opportunity for FedUni to engage in a significant local economic development activity. Collaboration between local government and the business and education sectors is critical for supporting the development of start-ups and microbusiness in the Casey-Cardinia region, “Dr Harrison said.

Anyone interested in connecting with The INNovation Crowd should contact City Economy at the City of Casey on 9705 5200.

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