Boost program helps Raiz partner with UNSW to develop new customer technology

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Micro investing platform Raiz has partnered with the University of NSW (UNSW) with support from the NSW Government's Boosting Business Innovation Program to develop machine-learning technology to provide a better experience for customers.

Raiz's smartphone app allows customers to build investments and savings by rounding-up electronic purchases and automatically investing their spare change to the nearest dollar into stocks in a diversified portfolio.

The Raiz Rewards loyalty program also provides customers with investment contributions when they shop with one of the company's partner brands.

UNSW worked with the company to develop a machine-learning engine to power the Raiz Rewards platform.

Raiz was awarded a matching $15,000 TechVouchers research grant through the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program to work with UNSW on the project.

UNSW’s Dr Lina Yao, a leading machine-learning researcher with extensive experience in recommender systems, and PhD student Shuai Zhang helped build the engine to make more relevant and personalised recommendations to customers when navigating more than 165 brands on Raiz Rewards.

'We’re excited to see how the new techniques developed from this collaboration can contribute to Raiz’ end-user experience. I look forward to seeing our collaborations go from strength to strength,' Dr Yao said.

Raiz Invest Managing Director George Lucas said the company had a customer base of more than 179,000 skewing towards the under-35 demographic, and providing a more intuitive experience using machine-learning will better address customer demands.

'Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They expect all their interactions to be easy to navigate and, above all, customised to their needs,' Mr Lucas said.

'We’re passionate about finding new and innovative ways to add value to everyday lives. Helping customers find the right rewards for their needs is a key part of this.'

Mr Lucas said the new technology combines two common approaches, used by companies such as Amazon or Netflix, to a recommendation engine to give a higher level of personalisation and relevance by blending information on purchases.

'By combining user-based and item-based frameworks, the platform is able to better define the right product and the right customer. It’s exciting from a technical perspective but even better for customers. They will receive a higher level of personalisation and more relevant recommendations when using our platform,' he said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro said through the Boosting Business Innovation Program the NSW Government has provided $18 million to the state’s 11 universities and the CSIRO to work with businesses to create great new ideas and products.

'This is about entrepreneurs tapping into the top-notch research provided by our university sector,' Mr Barilaro said.

'As a government we want to do everything we can to create the right environment for people to have the confidence to launch a startup and then get the support they need to succeed. As a result, NSW is now home to nearly 49% of Australia’s startups.'

Raiz was awarded Australia’s Investment Innovator of the Year at the 2018 FinTech business Awards for the 2nd time running and the FinTech Innovation in Wealth Management at the 2018 FinTech Awards.

The platform continues to grow with over 1 million downloads in Australia, and 13 new product releases since launch in February 2016.

Upper Hunter highest 'Pie in the Southern Sky'

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The Upper Hunter town of Merriwa made history on the weekend setting a Southern Hemisphere record by launch a meat pie to the highest ever altitude.

The University of NSW staged the flight with helium balloons and a Garlo’s pie on board as part of a four day 'NewSpace FlashBuild' event held from 7-11 November to promote the state’s space industry. The balloon reached 28.3 kilometres before bursting and returning to earth.

NSW Space Advocate Paul Scully-Power said the event was held by UNSW’s TechConnect program which is supported by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.

'NSW is home to over 40% of Australia’s space businesses and the industry is growing strongly so it’s great to see events like this bring the industry together to promote its future potential,' Mr Scully-Power said.

'The Boosting Business Innovation Program is about connecting our universities with businesses to share knowledge and promote innovation.'

UNSW TechConnect entrepreneur in residence Alex Herlihy said the NewSpace FlashBuild event brought together experienced teams, engineers, academics, startups, tech platforms and students.

'There were a range of events held to prototype and deploy solutions to space-related challenges,' Mr Herlihy said.

'The Pie in the Sky event on Saturday at Merriwa Sports Club saw two high-altitude helium balloons launched.

'This was a fun event but with a serious purpose. A Garlo’s meat pie was on board as well as small cubesat satellites, video and communications equipment for high altitude tests and to document the launch.

'This is the first step in what we hope will lead to a future satellite launch in NSW.

'The Pie in the Sky flight is also being supported by the UNSW student space club BlueSAT, space startup SpaceOps, satellite company Picosat Systems, inventor Mic Black and other more established space companies from the Delta-V Space Alliance.'

Garlo Pies sales manager Jackson Garlick said: 'Meat pies are a quintessential Aussie staple and setting the highest pie in the southern sky is not only be bragging rights for us but also an accomplishment for Australia.'

Boost for Lismore region Indigenous business

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The NSW Government is partnering with Charles Sturt University to give Indigenous businesses a boost across the Mid North Coast.

The 'Walan Mayinygu Indigenous Entrepreneurship Pop-up Hub' is visiting Lismore City Hall from 15-17 May 2018 offering a range of free Indigenous business development workshops and activities.

Walan Mayinygu is NSW's first regional Indigenous entrepreneurship program developed by Indigenous academic Associate Professor Michelle Evans to nurture Indigenous business, technology, and innovation ideas.

Walan Mayinygu’s visit to Lismore will allow Mid North Coast Indigenous residents to be mentored by established Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

The pop-up hub will offer Indigenous learning events including business masterclasses, practical workshops, panel discussions, a business plan and pitch development studio, guest speakers and networking opportunities.

The pop-up hub is funded by the NSW Government's Boosting Business Innovation Program which is providing $1.5 million to each of NSW's 11 universities - including our local Southern Cross University and its Enterprise Lab – and the CSIRO to work with businesses to drive innovation.

Walan Mayinygu’s visit to Lismore will include interactive activities on procurement skills, digital marketing and financing a business.

Business Strategy workshops will build business skills, Social Enterprise workshops will assist organisations that tackle social problems, and a Deadly Ideas Pre Start Up Workshop will focus on starting a business.

Free 3D printing workshop carves out future for Illawarra businesses

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Illawarra businesses attended a free University of Wollongong workshop on Wednesday 6 December on how 3D printing can help future-proof their business.

The ‘Going for Growth: Expanding your business with additive manufacturing’ workshop was held by UOW’s Advantage SME and the Southern Manufacturing Innovation Group with support from the NSW Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said the worklshop was supported through the Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program which is providing $18 million to the state’s 11 universities – including $1.5 million to UOW
– and the CSIRO to share expertise with businesses to help boost innovation.

“UOW’s Advantage SME program is doing this by bringing together university researchers and industry to solve problems and help businesses grow,” Mr Ward said.

“This event will show how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from Australia and the United Kingdom have used 3D printing to future-proof their businesses.”

The UOW workshop was a chance for Illawarra businesses to learn how 3D printing can help their business grow and also network with other innovative regional businesses.

The 3D printing workshop included a keynote presentation by Dr Allan Rennie who is a lecturer in engineering and an expert in 3D printing and product development from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

Dr Rennie has a record of helping industry transform using 3D printing and will show how Lancaster University’s Engineering Design Academy has successfully grown its local SME community.

The Engineering Design Academy has gained an international reputation for its innovative approach to SME collaboration and transforming local industry through additive manufacturing.

UOW also offered complimentary business consultations with Dr Rennie from 6-8 December.

AgriTech Incubator hatching innovation

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Rural entrepreneurs are invited to consider a spot in Charles Sturt University’s next intake of its AgriTech Incubator Program to help bolster regional agricultural innovation.

CSU in partnership with the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program are inviting start-up enterprises and individuals to sign up for the second round of the program by 15 December.

The second round of the AgriTech Incubator Program starts on 5 February next year and will run for eight weeks with participants graduating on 26 March 2018.

The program aims to nurture people with agritech and other business ideas or problems to help create regional entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups by providing access to CSU’s rich knowledge and resources.

A combination of face-to-face, online, and guided self-learning will help turn rural business ideas into reality.

The program is based out of CSU’s Wagga Wagga AgriTech Incubator Hub which was launched in September to bring university researchers together with technology and business entrepreneurs to create new products and ideas to boost our agricultural sector and the regional economy.

Applications for the AgriTech Incubator program can be submitted online and close Friday 15 December 2017.

The Hub is supported by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program which is providing $18 million to the state’s 11 universities – including $1.5 million to CSU – and the CSIRO to work with business to support innovation.

In a separate initiative, the AgriTech Incubator is partnering with with CSU’s u!magine and the Upstart Academy to help SMEs connect with students on digital marketing projects at Wagga Wagga Council on 7 December from 5.30pm.

University student teams will help businesses understand how digital marketing can leverage their products and services, and students will get a chance to apply their knowledge, skills and talent to help business in authentic digital marketing settings.