REGIONAL Western Australians understand better than most the effect of isolation and distance on businesses and this is why many of the most inspiring new ideas and concepts are founded in rural areas.
The West Tech Regional Innovation Showcase offers an exciting opportunity for regional based start-ups, or businesses solving problems in regional WA, to have their business featured at West Tech Fest in Perth.
West Tech Fest Regional Showcase event organiser and AgriStart managing director Tash Teakle said the exciting thing about the event was the connections and opportunities it offered.
"Regional businesses often get forgotten in Perth and they find it hard to connect into the innovation ecosystem in Perth," Ms Teakle said.
"That is what this event is all about, bringing innovative businesses to Perth and introducing them to investors and government and other industry organisations."
Ms Teakle said the event offered regional businesses exposure to government, industry, corporates and potential investors, as well as media and promotion plus offered potential investors new opportunities.
"We have had more than 200 hundred people attend the event over the past two years," she said.
"This year with the COVID restrictions easing we are going to cap attendance at 250.
"I think it is a good opportunity for people to start thinking about investing in small businesses.
"A lot of people are potentially more conservative with their investments, we know to invest in property, we know to invest in shares on the stock exchange, but don't actually think about investing in a small local start up.
"Investing in a good regionally-based business to take their product globally, I think it's a really exciting investment."
Investor network South West Angels was helping co-ordinate the event as part of an initiative to establish a Regional Investor Network across WA.
Agrifood businesses have been some of the standout participants in the regional showcase over the years and this strong link to the land has been bolstered by the experience and networking afforded by the West Tech Fest.
Businesses such as Vass Valley Hemp, Futari Wagyu and many others have been able to bolster their profile and grow their business from their exposure at the regional showcase.
This year 13 regional businesses were selected to be a part of online and in-person workshops with expert facilitators prior to the showcase.
At the regional showcase, to be held on Monday, December 6 at the Perth Town Hall, businesses will have a designated booth to demonstrate their innovation, pitch their business and network.
The event is multi-sector, featuring medical and agriculture technology, tourism, agrifood ventures and many others.
This year participants will also be in the running to win a $100,000 equity investment .
West Tech Fest is a week-long festival held in Perth, providing opportunities for the local start-up and tech community to connect with and hear from global leaders as they share insights into how to grow a successful business.
The event achieves this by hosting inspiring keynote speakerss, networking and pitching opportunities, mentoring sessions, hackathons and student workshops with founders, tech leaders and investors from the United States, the United Kingdom and the Asia Pacific region.
The regional showcase is one of the many held during the week-long festival, but it is by far one of the most popular.
Chief executive officers, founders and early-stage investors will attend the event to celebrate the major achievements WA start-ups and entrepreneurs have made over the past 12 months in the face of severe market instability, closed borders and funding challenges.
While WA was cut off from the rest of the world, venture capitalist and private investment in local early-stage tech-focused companies has doubled compared to the past financial year and this growth is set to increase with new investment opportunities forming the core focus of this year's event.
This year, there's real money on the table as well.
The investment opportunities on offer include a $50,000 SAFE note from Woodside Energy for the winners of round one of the Australian Regional Finals of Extreme Tech Challenge, up to $100,000 in seed funding for successful participants in Spacecubed's Plus Eight Accelerator Program and up to $100,000 equity investment for tech businesses which attend any West Tech Fest event throughout the week via the West Tech Fest Investor Network.
Participants can also meet with potential investors directly through the Investor Office Hours program also launching this year.
"Woodside Energy is a strong supporter of start-ups, with portfolio companies involved in activities ranging from novel seismic data acquisition to digital LNG trading and cyber security," said Woodside Innovation investment manager Rob Affleck.
"We look for amazing founders and will invest in them and support them as they grow fantastic businesses.
"We're excited about seeing the next batch of talent through XTC."
Silicon Valley venture capitalist and West Tech Fest co-founder Bill Tai said the growth of the festival was contributing to new successes for the local tech and start-up communities.
"I'm delighted to see West Tech grow to become the premier gathering in WA for the 'new economy' emerging around technology and sustainability,'' Mr Tai said.
"Digital reach is amplifying the connectivity and support of the in-person community of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partners, sustainability and regulatory people that gather each year in the sunshine of Perth.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what great companies emerge from this event."
This year's line-up of speakers includes Mr Tai, Sam Kroonenburg, chief executive officer and founder of A Cloud Guru and recently named in Australian Financial Review's 2021 Young Rich List; Binance Australia chief executive officer Leigh Travers and Woodside Energy vice-president technology, Jason Crusan.
West Tech Fest was initiated by Curtin University and forms part of its Curtinnovation System developed to support innovators and their start-up companies from inception.
Celebrating its 10th year in 2021, the festival has grown a strong global network and profile thanks to its partnerships with the City of Perth, Woodside Energy, ACTAI Global, Freo Start Up Fest, Spacecubed, Radium Capital and the Extreme Tech Challenge.
"Our partners share our vision of connecting local start-ups with networks that can help them scale globally from Perth,'' said Curtin University's director of commercialisation and West Tech Fest co-founder Rohan McDougall.
"We all want to see a vibrant and diversified economic future for the State."
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