It’s hard to remember a time when we lived our lives without email. We didn’t think twice before video calling a friend or family member. Every educational opportunity wasn’t at our fingertips, just one computer platform away.
When you think about how much our lives now rely on internet connectivity, you realise how important access to fast, reliable broadband is. It’s something the NBN Local team has been focussed on providing to regional homes and businesses, as a part of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout that had Bundaberg first connected in 2015.
Since then, NBN Co has been committed to lifting the digital capability of businesses, as well as supporting innovation, business growth and education, particularly in regional areas like Bundaberg.
NBN Local Business Lead Deborah Mead said the service had been helping businesses grow in the tech field through a recent grant program, Innovate with NBN.
“Regional businesses are still striving to maintain their competitiveness and relevance through innovation against their city counterparts, so this program is to help encourage businesses from regional or remote areas with their technology-led ideas,” Deborah said.
Marcus McCormick, Managing Director and owner of Skills Unite, was a finalist in the grant program in 2021.
“Grants like this are so important to help innovative programs get off the ground. For any business dealing with digital connectivity and trying something new, novel or innovative, there is a cost associated with that, so programs like Innovate with NBN are helping put these ideas in motion,” Marcus said.
Skills Unite works with businesses to identify training needs and connect them to others with the same needs to provide easier access to training opportunities.
Currently working with businesses directly, Marcus plans to move the concept to a digital platform over time.
“Our application to Innovate with NBN was to build a platform where businesses would input their training requirements. This would then be digitally matched in the back end to identify other businesses with the same needs and create training opportunities in the same region, when there was a shown demand for that,” he said.
While not receiving the final award, Marcus said the process was simple and easy and it was fantastic to learn from other businesses who were also looking to create new digital offerings.
Now in its third year, the Innovate with NBN grants program will open for applications in October 2022.
“We are looking to discover regional businesses doing amazing things on the NBN,” Deborah said.
“Grants will be available across seven categories: health, education, agriculture, arts, tourism, Indigenous business and women in regional business. Keep an eye on innovatewithnbn.com.au for all the details on how to apply.”