The Darwin Innovation Hub’s goal is to support local jobs and growth in the Northern Territory across broad sectors and providing expert skills to the start-up ecosystem.

The DIH was itself a start-up, established with an initial investment from the Paspalis family, leveraged by matched funding under the Federal Incubator Support Program and a grant from the Northern Territory Government. The DIH has now successfully shifted into the next phase of operations, to a position which has allowed the DIH to provide greater Territory coverage and support services to the Northern Territory ecosystem, with the appointment of the Hub’s first Full Time Expert in Residence, Emma Nesbitt, and part time specialist Mr Geoff Thomas.

On the 10th of December 2019, the DIH won a Federal grant through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme to employ a full time Northern Territory based Expert in Residence, Emma Nesbitt. In addition, the DIH has elected to engage a part time specialist, Mr Geoff Thomas.

In these roles, both Emma and Geoff will bring their commercialisation experience, deep insights and expertise gained across regional Australia and abroad, particularly within the start-up and high growth business sectors across a broad range of industry sectors.

“The appointment of Mr Thomas and Ms Nesbitt comes at a very exciting time for the Darwin Innovation Hub, particularly as we look to complete round 2 and launch round 3 of the Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund. The Darwin Innovation Hub is also nearing completion of its Compute Facility as part of the Digital Partnerships Program – a facility which will provide a high-tech data lab facility at the hub to provide start-ups and companies undertaking research and development access to high-speed internet and collaboration services.” CEO Mr Harley Paroulakis.

2019 was a very successful year for the Darwin Innovation Hub. The Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund (PIIF) announced an investment into the Arnhem Space Centre with Equatorial Launch Australia, which will be launching NASA rockets in 2020, as well as a co-investment into Aliena, a space propulsion technology start-up from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. In March 2019, PIIF invested into Belly Bunker and in May 2019, PIIF invested into SPEE3D as part of their Series A fund raising strategy, marking a significant financial achievement in the economic narrative and history of the Northern Territory.  These investments demonstrate the quality of Territory start-ups, and how PIIF is bringing venture investment to these companies.

PIIF is currently working to provide an investment into Corrosion Instruments, the winner of the Hub’s Croc Pitch 2019.  Corrosion Instruments has a technology which monitors corrosion in the oil and gas industry’s extensive pipeline networks.

Since its inception, the DIH has grown exponentially into a world class Incubator and Innovation centre for the Northern Territory, providing expert advice to established businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups, value adding into the innovation and investment ecosystem of the Territory across a multitude of sectors. The DIH has established connections with leading partners across a range of sectors, including private business, agencies and research and development centres, as well as into Singapore and greater Asia.

Emma Nesbitt is a consultant across regional Australia with a background in business intelligence and business process management. A strong influencer of change and modernisation, Emma establishes national collaborations and develops models and mechanisms allowing private investment into hard to fund projects across a range of industry sectors. Emma works with Angel investment networks, as well as Series A to C investors across a range of industries including agribusiness, renewable energy, freight and logistics, social enterprise, retail and hospitality, identifying catalyst projects which fit alongside regional priorities.

Geoff Thomas has a long history in management of start-up and early expansion investment funds. Funds he led have invested successfully in Defence, IT, ag-tech, biotechnology, manufacturing and distribution sectors. Geoff has worked as a mentor at the Adelaide University ThincLab incubator, an experienced angel investor and the board member and investor in three start-up companies in ag-tech, security systems and biotechnology.

Emma Nesbitt and Geoff Thomas are also assisting the Northern Territory Government as Innovators in Residence as part of the Business Innovation Program.

Both Emma and Geoff will travel to regional locations throughout the Territory including Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy in 2020.

Applications for the first intake of the Darwin Innovation Hub Incubator Scholarships are now open for 2020 for Northern Territory based start-ups and entrepreneurs. Each Scholarship runs for 3 months with entrepreneurs gaining access to our Entrepreneur in Residence and Experts in Residence, exclusive workshops and 24/7 access to the Incubator Lab. Applications close Thursday 19 December 2019.

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