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Government hands out $428,000 to niche innovators as SA unemployment jumps to 7.7 per cent

March 17 2016

NICHE companies that the State Government is banking on to reduce South Australia’s nation-high unemployment rate have been given more than $400,000 to turn entrepreneurial ideas into high-value businesses.

INNOVO Healthcare is included among the latest Micro Finance Fund recipients after last year launching its patented U-Stand Frame mobility assistance device. Director Allan Perriam will put the $50,000 towards his first mass production run, which will be undertaken locally.

Two-and-a-half years in the making, the U-Stand Frame won the local leg of a global challenge late last year that was aimed at finding innovative products and services for the aged care sector. The patented device — the first released under the INNOVO Healthcare brand — allows patients, particularly the elderly, to get themselves from a sitting position to a standing one.

Other businesses to receive funding include Vinnovate, which will spend its $50,000 on the further development of an on-demand bottle closure that is being tested in collaboration with the Australian Wine Research Institute and wineries, and software group Seer Insights.

The $428,000 in funding was announced by Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher just an hour prior to the latest labour force data finding that SA’s unemployment rate had jumped a whopping 0.9 percentage points in February, to now sit at 7.7 per cent — the highest in Australia and well above the national rate of 5.8 per cent.

“More entrepreneurial activity in SA will help the State Government achieve an important economic goal — growth through innovation,” Mr Maher, who doubles as the Employment Minister, said.

Attempting to put a positive spin on the latest figures, Mr Maher highlighted recent job creation announcements. Although he did admit that SA faces a “difficult employment challenge”.

“SA is going through a period of economic transition, with less reliance on old industries such as heavy manufacturing and car-making, and a greater focus on hi-tech, high-value manufacturing in areas such as food and medical devices,” he said.

Micro Finance Fund recipients:

  • Arkwright Technologies — $50,000 to help commercialise fibre optic pressure sensing technology and establish a small-scale manufacturing facility.
  • Global Aquatica — $50,000 to help test the feasibility of a pilot plant for its BioAqua technique to eradicate pollution caused by Acid Mine Drainage.
  • Paracombe Premium Perry — $50,000 to help install a small-scale fully automated bottling line, and to offer micro businesses in the Adelaide Hills access to small-scale bottling runs.
  • Seer Insights Group — $30,000 to help further develop its intelligent software system which assists vineyard staff, growers, and wineries to improve the accuracy of their yield estimates.
  • Fleet Space Technologies — $50,000 to help engage technical specialists and partners to complete production of prototype hardware for low-cost internet connectivity in remote areas using a fleet of tiny, low-cost satellites
  • Flints of Coonawarra — $50,000 to help prototype development for its unique, single-serve, dual purpose wine container.
  • Group Kinetica — $48,667 to help further develop a prototype of its safe and environmentally friendly weeding solution.
  • INNOVO Healthcare — $50,000 to help first batch local manufacturing of its U-Stand Frame mobility assistance device, which will be produced through local manufacturers.
  • Vinnovate — $50,000 to help manufacture a prototype and further develop an innovative and transformative on-demand bottle closure that is being tested in collaboration with the Australian Wine Research Institute and wineries.

Micro Finance Fund grants are offered on a 2-for-1 basis — $2 of funding for every $1 the recipient raises, with a maximum grant of $50,000.

South Australian Government

University of South Australia