Integrated Innovation Network (I2N)

The University of Newcastle’s (UON) Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) provides the enabling infrastructure and programs needed to support and celebrate entrepreneurship, driving broader economic growth and creation of new businesses.

UON implicitly understands the role of the entrepreneur in taking new discoveries out of the lab and delivering innovation that solves the challenges of our world today. We believe that the best innovation ecosystems are those where new industries, jobs and opportunities happen when research, business, government and community forge strong alliances. Embedded in UON’s NeW Futures Strategic Plan 2016-2025 is an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, stemming from UON’s vision to facilitate the University’s role as a developer of knowledge and a driver of the regional economy. The University is working with local stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem to provide the smart workforce for the future.

The I2N is an initiative of the University of Newcastle and supported by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.

Spaces for collaborative innovation

The Hunter region is undergoing significant transformational change from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy. The Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) links four UON and partner hubs across our region and places UON researchers and students at the frontier of entrepreneurial activity across a breadth of sectors. This network capitalises on synergies in programming and membership incentives as a value-add for the users and partners of the hubs, in order to fuel a critical mass of skills to drive innovation in our region.

Located in the heart of Newcastle, Three76 Hub is a physical space for UON students and staff, in addition to members of the wider community, to have the opportunity to create, test, develop and produce services and products that meet market expectations. Over two levels, Three76 Hub accommodates flexible co-working spaces and collaborative meeting zones with the technological and physical environment to support startups in the Newcastle region.

A purpose-built co-working space at the Williamtown Aerospace Centre, located next to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base, DSA-18 Hub concentrates on research technology applications in the commercial defence, security and aerospace markets. This hub builds on UON’s acknowledged strengths in cybersecurity, control systems, autonomous vehicles, simulation modelling and propulsion and energy storage, all of which offer opportunities for engagement with nearby industries positioned in defence.

Building on a landmark partnership between UON and Muswellbrook Shire Council, UON Upper Hunter is a co-location of office, teaching and lab spaces, aimed at supporting the diversification goals of the Upper Hunter and its potential to transition into an innovation intensive region. The Hub helps foster an innovation ecosystem that promotes economic diversification in the areas of energy technologies, environmental remediation and community capital.

The I2N is supporting the Dantia Smart Hub (DaSH) via a suite of entrepreneurial programs at the Charlestown co-working space, such as the I2N Incubator, which facilitates scaling-up opportunities for local businesses to drive emerging economic activity in the region.

Innovation & entrepreneurship partnerships

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. In addition to our national and international research partnerships with esteemed institutions, UON is an active participant in a number of professional bodies and consortia.

UON is a member of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres (GCEC) which comprises more than 225 university-based entrepreneurship centres across the world that connect academic and business communities to advance excellence in the innovation field. In 2016, UON was recognised for its entrepreneurship and innovation leadership by being inducted into the prestigious Leadership Circle of the GCEC. As part of the Leadership Circle, UON joins an elite group of 31 universities worldwide who provide guidance to the GCEC and represent the best in entrepreneurship education.

The University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) is passionate about advancing university-industry interaction, entrepreneurial universities and collaborative innovation. As members of the UIIN, UON academics, researchers and professionals can tap into this network and thereby help drive UON’s commitment to innovation. UIIN boasts 200+ members from more than 25 countries including technology transfer offices, researchers in various fields, business professionals and policy makers.

The Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) is a not-for profit organisation whose members are all New South Wales (NSW) based universities, including UON, in addition to TAFE NSW. Established in 2016 the SSE teaches radical entrepreneurial skills to top students from a range of disciplines as part of their degree. SSE seeks out bright, energetic, creative and committed students – up to 1,000 each year - from across Sydney as well as regional and rural areas. The SSE is Sydney in name, but NSW in operation and presents a large portfolio of co-curricular activities across all its member partners.

A commitment by UON, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and the University of Wollongong (UOW), the NUW Alliance aims to explore the challenges impacting NSW to generate benefits for the State as well as the Australian economy. With a geographical reach to 25% of Australia’s population, this collaboration is the first grouping of its kind in Australia and is modelled on similar regionally-based research alliances in the United Kingdom and USA.

The Hunter Innovation Project (HIP) is a partnership between UON, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Now and Hunter DiGiT. HIP includes the installation of smart technology and Wi-Fi throughout Newcastle's CBD and the establishment of an innovation hub. HIP is supported by a $9.8 million commitment from the NSW Government through the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund (HIIF) with HIP partners contributing a further $8 million. UON has responsibility for the delivery of the Innovation Hub, a dedicated facility in the Newcastle CBD which will bring together researchers, students, developers, entrepreneurs, investors, technical specialists and business advisors. By linking with and showcasing UON's existing innovation and entrepreneurship programs, the Innovation Hub will form part of the UON's I2N, and will facilitate the launch of spinoffs, start-ups and mature companies; attract investment and businesses to the Hunter Region; encourage innovation and commercialisation; and produce the next generation of entrepreneurs, business leaders and inventors.

CSIRO power the ON program, Australia’s national science and technology accelerator, designed specifically for research teams. The program consists of two parts. The first is an entry level, part-time 8-week pre-accelerator program called ON Prime that helps research teams validate a fit between their research ideas and a real-world problem. The second is a 2-month full-time accelerator program called Accelerate which helps researchers validate and develop high potential innovative ventures. UON facilitates the promotion and delivery of the ON programs for its researchers.

UON was an early sponsor and supporter of the first Slingshot cohort and one of the inaugural corporate partners in Slingshot’s recently announced SaaS CoVentured platform. The organisations have also collaborated on the University’s STAR4000 program which provides students with entrepreneurial skills and pathways for innovation and future self-employment. More recently, UON has partnered Slingshot to deliver the Icon Accelerator from Three76 Hub. Icon is a cohesive, industry-agnostic 10-week program with investment embedded within it to allow companies to scale and go global. It’s tailored to the specific needs of the Hunter Region and open to anyone involved in an early-stage startup.

I2N Staff

Mrs Siobhan Curran
Manager, I2N Operations and Programs

T: +61 2 4921 6951

Mr Richard Berry
I2N Project Assistant

T: +61 2 4055 0600

Mr Sahil Harriram
Three76 Innovation Hub Assistant

T: +61 2 4921 6951