Northam innovation hub opens for entrepreneurs

Young Northam residents with big business ideas are one step closer to their dreams becoming a reality after a new training program was launched on Friday.

AgriStart's Connect Innovation Hub will see programs run out of the Shire of Northam's Create 298 co-working space, located at 298 Fitzgerald Street.

Eight to ten people will have the opportunity to kick-start their business, receiving hands-on training and mentoring from industry professionals.

Northam is one of three hub locations chosen, including Busselton and Albany, to run the program after AgriStart received a federal government grant.

Shire of Northam chief executive Jason Whiteaker said the program provided a positive opportunity for young professionals living in the Wheatbelt.

"We are trying to promote, especially to our young people, that they can be innovative and live in the country and start businesses in the country," he said.

There is lots of hidden talent in the regions.

AgriStart managing director Tash Ayers

"It's good to give aspiring entrepreneurs somewhere to go.

"They don't need to travel to the metro area. It's really great from that perspective.

"It's all about trying to draw people out who have business ideas, then flesh them out to a point where they can get them to market.

"It's really exciting."

AgriStart managing director Tash Ayers said the program would provide regional startups with access to export markets and attract investment capital.

They don't need to travel to the metro area.

Northam Shire Chief Executive Officer Jason Whiteaker

"There is lots of hidden talent in the regions," she said.

"We are selecting eight to ten startups who will go through a six-month structured business development program.

"My business partner and I have a background across lots of different sectors.

"Agriculture is my specialty and my favourite, but the startups can be from any sector.

"As long as they are working on something innovative and is a scalable business model - we're not talking your corner deli."

Governments do not create employment. Entrepreneurs, businesses and hard working families create employment.

Pearce MP Christian Porter

Ms Ayers said the program includes a two-day boot camp at Muresk Institute.

"We will also bring in monthly guest speakers and mentors from Perth, and around the country, who can actually help provide that expert training," she said.

"It will culminate in a regional innovation showcase in Perth where they will get to pitch their technology."

Pearce MP Christian Porter said the project supported job growth and was exciting for the Wheatbelt, during his speech at the hub opening on Friday.

"Governments do not create employment. Entrepreneurs, businesses and hard-working families create employment," he said.

"Having an entrepreneurial hub is part of a much grander plan."

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