17 February 2022

Got a great idea? The Canberra Innovation Network is here to help turn it into reality

| Karyn Starmer
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Group working together on table

Canberra Innovation Network CEO Petr Adamek working with a group of Canberran entrepreneurs. Photo: CBRIN.

Proving the region’s reputation as a leading innovation incubator, a new group of local start-ups will have the opportunity to turn their clever ideas into reality through the latest funding round of the Innovation Connect (ICON) grant program.

A partnership between the ACT Government and the Canberra Innovation Network, the ICON grant program provides an opportunity for early-stage businesses to receive matched funding of between $10,000 and $30,000. The grant aims to support the market testing and prototyping of a concept and determine its commercial feasibility.

For this round, $195,000 has been awarded to eight local companies looking to change the way we do things for the better.

One of the concepts is ‘Alfred’, a meal-tracking app developed by former professional rugby player and co-owner of The Dock, Ben Alexander.

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While playing for the Brumbies and the Wallabies, Ben says he needed to get his weight under control. This involved managing his food intake on the high-energy-burning match and training days and reducing his intake on lower energy days.

Ben says he used food tracking to gain control over his weight and lose 20 kg in retirement. But the tool he used didn’t work for his friends and family as they found it too complicated to use regularly. In response, Ben built Alfred.

The unique idea behind Alfred is that users take a photo or text a description of each meal or snack they eat and the app calculates and tallies the energy, and any exercise undertaken. Alfred is already up and running.

“We have developed Alfred with the assistance of the University of Canberra nutrition and dietetics staff and students. We are now at the point where we need to automate the calculations and take the app to bigger markets like the US and the UK,” Ben says.

“Money is vital to any business, and we’re very grateful for CBRIN and the ACT Government’s support to help us expand Alfred to help users around the world manage their diets better.”

Ben Alexander and Duncan Buchanan

Alfred co-founders Ben Alexander and Duncan Buchanan. Photo: Alfred Facebook.

The ICON grants are designed to assist innovations at different stages in their development.

Lift Pass, a personal snow transport device similar to a Segway to take skiers and boarders uphill to access new slopes and tracks, will use the funding to develop a marketable prototype.

Developer Mal Tarbuck says his idea received an initial boost after attending a start-up course at CBRIN.

“From there, I went away to develop the idea and the product to where we are now ready to develop a prototype.”

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Other recipients include Aurabox, a cloud-based medical imaging storage and viewing platform and Viortec, a smart surgical clamp for robotic knee replacement surgery.

Membrane Transport Engineers are developing a wastewater processing system to help turn agricultural wastewater into valuable assets and drought-proof Australian agriculture.

FC Tekkers is a tech-enabled, soccer-focused family entertainment centre involving soccer challenges, competitions, food and beverage, merchandise, and eSports.

PV Lab Australia is developing machine learning to automate solar panel image analysis, while Recruitable Hub hopes to revolutionise the recruitment industry, making it easier for candidates to find great jobs and hiring managers to find the perfect person quickly.

“We see a growing range of highly ambitious innovations pursued by entrepreneurial Canberrans,” Canberra Innovation Network CEO Petr Adamek says.

“I could not be more excited by the ambition, quality and diversity of projects that apply each round. “If you believe you have an innovative business idea that can have a real impact around the world while creating innovation jobs in Canberra, make sure you do not miss the opportunity to apply.”

To kick-start your entrepreneurial growth journey, learn more about Innovation Connect Grants at CBRIN. The current funding round closes on Friday, 8 April 2022.

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Tom Worthington8:21 am 20 Feb 22

I recommend CBRIN to my uni colleagues and students. You may not become a billionaire, but you will learn a lot about how business works, and how to present an idea. In the mid 1990s, I found a book about how Cambridge (UK) because an entrepreneurial powerhouse, then visited to talk to the people doing it. On my return I suggest Canberra do the same. So far it seems to be working well. http://www.tomw.net.au/nt/uk.html

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