RMIT entrepreneurs can access the start-up capital they need to get their ideas off the ground thanks to the University’s $5 million investment fund.
The New Enterprise Investment Fund (NEIF) has been established by RMIT to support business start-ups from the student and alumni community through $25,000 interest-free loans.
Six businesses received funding from NEIF in the first round including NXK, a label from Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) graduate Nixi Killick.
The designer and imaginer was excited about what the funding would mean for her business.
"I've done so much in the last fifteen months, since launching my label NXK – from partnering with HP and IBM to dressing Lady Gaga for her global ArtRAVE tour,” Killick said.
“It’s all just been with mum's old sewing machine too - imagine what I could do with some real equipment.”
Others supported by the fund since it was established in 2015 are free water brand Free is Better, artisan chocolate company Tonantzin Chocolate, optical fibre specialist Lightcore Tech, organic health product company Manuko, and online live music comparison and booking marketplace GigKoo.
Free is Better’s founder and managing director, Diploma of Advertising graduate, Alex Chen said the experience with the NEIF program had been very positive.
“The program has benefitted us in ways we didn’t know it would,” he said.
“On top of the funding, we have also been provided with work facilities and professional mentoring and advice, all of which has really assisted us in this early development stage.”
Each year, more than 650 fully fledged business plans are created by RMIT students through innovative programs such as Business Skills for Creative Industries, the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, the Business Plan Competition and a range of short courses.
Established in response to this overwhelming interest in business start-ups, the NEIF program was designed to provide these budding entrepreneurs with the financial support, networks and advice necessary to turn their ideas into viable businesses.
Brad Barr, founder of LightCore Tech, came to NEIF after participating in The Prince's Lead Your Own Business Program, run by The Prince's Charities Australia.
“I'm transitioning from the navy to set up my own enterprise and the support and assistance I’ve received from RMIT and the mentors in getting my pitch ready has been awesome” Barr said.
Wholly-owned and run RMIT, the fund is administered through a board of leading corporate advisers, entrepreneurs, staff and alumni, chaired by businessman and broadcaster Eddie McGuire.
McGuire said it was an inspired resource that would support the development of forward thinking businesses, providing work opportunities for future generations.
“RMIT is renowned for being a world-class centre for education of technology and design. The university also has a history of taking a hands-on approach to teaching,” he said.
“I can’t think of a more perfectly positioned institution to train future business leaders and provide them with a platform to achieve their professional ambitions.”\
Story: Grace Taylor