Innovation set to bloom as Albany working space nabs $220,000 State Government boost

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Benita Cattalini, BreakthruWA business developer Anne Sparrow, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Worklink WA chief executive Jane Kelsbie.
Camera IconAlbany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Benita Cattalini, BreakthruWA business developer Anne Sparrow, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Worklink WA chief executive Jane Kelsbie. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

Albany innovators from schoolchildren to experienced business owners will soon come together under one roof in a new collaborative working space set to grow with a $220,000 State Government boost.

Albany-based employment and training not-for-profit organisation BreakthruWA will use the funds to build a space for people to seek mentorship and grow their business ideas.

Designed to accommodate up to 60 people once expansion is complete, the working space on Sanford Road will feature offices, computers and the technology needed for start-ups to grow.

The project aims to offer a range of innovation programs at the new space, including a program for local Year 5 students.

Announcing the funding in Albany on Friday, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the project would “reset the innovation button for Albany” and help existing businesses adapt to the digital economy.

“It’s not all about just having a groovy space that people can come into, I think the thing that really works is where we offer programs,” she said.

“We are going out and fostering entrepreneurialism within schoolkids and generally creating an ecosphere.”

BreakthruWA will work with Worklink WA and the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which together were successful in securing the support under the Regional New Industries Fund.

Until recently, Labor’s Albany candidate Rebecca Stephens was regional manager of Worklink WA.

Responding to a question about the potential for a perceived conflict of interest, Ms MacTiernan told the Advertiser the funding was provided to BreakthruWA after a competitive expressions of interest process.

“Applications were assessed by a panel of Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development officers, with the BreakthruWA project the highest recommended application by the department,” she said.

“BreakthruWA are partnering with a number of organisations to deliver the project ... this partnership model will ensure the project delivers the best outcome for businesses and local jobs in the Great Southern.”

BreakthruWA business developer Anne Sparrow said the new space could be ready to welcome innovators in four weeks.

“I think COVID-19 sent people to their homes, but people miss people, so now they are wanting to come back out,” she said.

“And it may not be everyday of their business, they might just choose two days of their business to actually be in a place where they are working with other people.

“But just being able to bounce ideas off of people and collaborate, when you get people together...that’s when the magic happens.”

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