Feds offer BITS to West

Western Australian IT entrepreneurs will now be able to gain funding and business consulting services from a new incubator financed by the Federal Government's BITS (Building for Information Technology Strengths) program.

Along with a group of private investors, the Government grant will contribute toward the establishment of Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiR), which aims to foster the development of new information technology and communications startups in Western Australia.

The group received a five-year, $10 million grant from the BITS program, and $4.75 million from various co-investors. EiR chairman Kevin Campbell is looking for further venture capitalists as the incubator grows and will offer these partners equity positions in either EiR or the IT companies that are fostered by it.

To be eligible for incubation through EiR, a company needs to have fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of less than $1 million last financial year, with the rights to a technology, intellectual property or product developed in Australia that has the capability to be marketed internationally.

"We are looking at small organisations that may have already done some work themselves, but don't have enough funding or staff; or individuals coming from our tertiary education system who have good ideas," said EiR chairman Kevin Campbell. "We take them through the process of forming a business and marketing plan and using the assistance of professional organisations like the Big 5 and established marketing firms. It's one thing to have a good idea; it's another to make it materialise."

Campbell said the Incubator has some potential prospects coming through at present, and will decide on two successful applicants by the end of the year. It will then assist a total of 25 successful applicants over the five-year term of the Government funding, offering around $450,000 to each startup company accepted under the scheme. After this five-year period, Campbell hopes the incubator should have enough equity in successful companies to offer the same service without any outside assistance.

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