iAccelerate event to focus on social impact

Wollongong to become the home of community-minded entrepreneurs

The University of Wollongong’s incubator and accelerator, iAccelerate, is hosting its first Impact conference (8 to 11 August), which along with providing practical advice for entrepreneurs and investors, heralds iAccelerate’s new effort to support start-ups that deliver long-term social change that are currently beyond the reach of not-for-profits or government.

The four-day iAccelerate Impact conference and boot camp brings together the leading minds in social enterprise creation, investment, policy and research to help entrepreneurs learn how to create financially sustainable but socially focused businesses.

iAccelerate CEO Omar Khalifa said Australia was in the early stages of developing a social entrepreneurship culture and iAccelerate had an opportunity to take a leadership role.

“Social entrepreneurship is about using entrepreneurial approaches to solve big, complex or intractable problems, be they social, health or environmental,” Mr Khalifa said.

“Making a profit in such areas may seem unnatural but mixing positive social outcomes or ‘impact’ with entrepreneurial approaches offers an opportunity for further re-investment and an ability to become self-supporting.

“This conference and boot camp aims to accelerate that process and inspire a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs and investors to address societal challenges at all levels.

“The conference looks to deliver a practical how-to approach to turning social not-for-profits from grant and funding writing machines into profit-making self-funding enterprises, as well as providing a point of focus for investors who are looking for more than only social returns.”

Day one of the conference is an Inspire Day, with inspirational talks from international and regional leaders in social entrepreneurship, including environmentalist and former US Vice-President Al Gore and scientist, author, academic, and climate change activist Professor Tim Flannery.

Guests will see pre-recorded opening remarks from Al Gore about his approach to galvanising citizen action and social change to deal with climate change through impact investment.

“Al Gore is someone who has not only led political efforts to address pressing environmental challenges but has more recently also put his money behind it as an investor. It is a fascinating journey that we will explore further,” Mr Khalifa said.

At the conclusion of first day the event will be the gala dinner, A Meal with a Conscience, featuring some to the best local chefs highlighting sustainability and locally grown and produced foods.

Days two and three are boot camps for entrepreneurs interested in learning how to get started and become sustainable in social entrepreneurship.

The Conference culminates in a series of one-on-one sessions with experts to help entrepreneurs and investors get started.

Conference overview

Day 1 (8 August): Inspire Day

A series of inspirational talks on making a difference from international and local speakers including:

  • Mikaela Jade, Managing Director Indigital Pty Ltd
  • Professor Joe Steensma, Washington University in St. Louis
  • William Rosenzweig, social entrepreneur, University of California, Berkley
  • Craig Parker, Executive Director; Head of Structured and Asset Finance at Westpac

Days 2 & 3 (9, 10 August): iAccelerate Impact boot camp

Workshops to help participants understand social entrepreneurship and investing. Topics include building sustainable social enterprise, how to attract funding, how to invest for impact and more.

Day 4 (11 August): One-on-ones

Sessions with experts to help entrepreneurs and investors get started.

See the iAccelerate Impact conference website for a full of guest speakers and their bios: iaccelerate.com.au/impact

Case study: Recovery Camp

iAccelerate resident start-up Recovery Camp is an evidence-based and award-winning program that delivers mental health focused clinical placements for health students and recovery-oriented experiences for people with a lived experience of mental illness.

The program sees health students, people with a mental illness, and health professionals spend five days together at an outdoors adventure recreation camp where all participate in a structured recovery-oriented activities program.

Activities can include a giant swing, high ropes course, rock climbing, a flying fox, bush dancing, art and craft, and trivia.

Every camp provides health students with the best opportunity to learn and understand mental health and recovery, and challenge any pre-conceived ideas of what it means to experience mental illness.

It also creates an environment that challenges, supports and empowers people with lived experience of mental illness.

Recovery Camp was developed in 2013 by UOW academics and researchers.

Since then, Recovery Camp has provided more than 17,000 hours of clinical placement to students of Nursing, Psychology, Dietetics, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, and has involved over 200 people with lived experience of mental illness.

Recovery Camp has expanded to other universities across Australia, allowing for the program to extend its impact on student learning and mental health recovery.

For more information: recoverycamp.com.au

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