Grow Coastal

The Sunshine Coast's first food accelerator

Frequently Asked Questions

You must be 110% committed and attend at least 75% of the Tuesday workshop sessions to be part of the program. You will also be expected to complete weekly progress reports and meet certain milestones, which we will work with you to set at the beginning of the program. You may also be asked to take part in media interviews, blogs and promotional videos as part of the Grow Coastal program.

  • Each week (on a Tuesday) we’ll run a range of activities tailored to your needs (both team and product development) and you’ll be introduced to experts who can help you develop and accelerate your business.
  • There will be weekly briefings, check-ins, mentoring sessions, networking opportunities and through our growing list of partners you will have access to a range of facilities and expertise that you would normally find difficult and/or expensive to access.
  • We’ll provide inspiring food innovations and case studies about how to grow a successful food and beverage business. You will also be able to sample some new, innovative local food and beverage products over a weekly networking lunch.
  • In the final weeks of the program you will work to refine your pitch in preparation for DemoDay, meeting our investor network and raising your profile in the marketplace.

We’ll select 12 highly ambitious founders (and their teams) to be on the program. Your group will be made up of passionate, local food and beverage entrepreneurs just like you. We believe that being part of a cohort of ambitious food founders is really important for collaboration, sharing advice and keeping you motivated through the 12 week journey and beyond. 

No, but having a team helps! Grow Coastal is open to sole founders, startup teams and small businesses with a new innovation, however preference is generally given to those with a talented team to help share the journey. There’s a lot to get done in 12 weeks, so having a team or a co-founder can be really handy. If you are a sole founder, we need to know that you will be able to keep up.

No we don’t. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, partners and mentors, everything you learn and every connection you make as a Grow Coastal business is yours to keep and we don’t take anything in return.

Grow Coastal is funded by Advance Queensland, the IC, USC with industry support from FAN. 

No but as an entrepreneur you must demonstrate the 3 Cs – creativity, collaboration, and commitment. We will work with you to put together an action plan for your business, with clear milestones. We will help you clarify your vision and give you access to an extensive network of industry experts, so that you have the information you need to create the business that you want.

The Innovation Centre CEO Mark Paddenburg will manage the overall program with Jacqui Price from FAN delivering and coordinating the 2018 Grow Coastal Program.  Mark and Jacqui will be supported by the Food and Agribusiness Networks’ General Manager Emma Greenhatch. You will also be able to tap into our partner networks and expert mentors.

Grow Coastal is focused on supporting innovation around physical food or beverage product concepts with high growth potential. Hospitality, foodservice and catering/delivery services are not eligible for this program, but you can register your interest via email and we will notify you if we launch programs suitable for you.

No but you do need to have an advanced prototype or already be testing your product on the market. Preference will be given to those who are product ready and are already experiencing sales traction in their chosen market. We’ll work with you to take your business to the next level.

We want to hear your story, what you have achieved so far and what you want to do next. To ace your application, be honest, be open and tell us what makes your business great. We have reviewed hundreds of startup businesses, from people with just an idea to people trading internationally, so we will be able to identify businesses with something special, whatever stage you are at.

Applications will be kept completely confidential and you do not need to reveal your secret sauce. Everyone selected for the program will need to sign a code of conduct which respects your innovation and confidentiality. We encourage genuine collaboration and accelerating your business in a safe, collegiate environment and we’ll manage any conflicts of interest that may arise.

Applications for the Grow Coastal program close at 5:00pm 24 Nov 2017

Shortlisted startups will be notified by phone or email in late January 2019.

The 16 week Grow Coastal program starts on 5th February 2019 and our last session is on 18th June 2019. If you are shortlisted, there will be an Information Session & Celebration Dinner 21st February.

Demo Day is an opportunity for you to showcase your business to potential investors, media, industry VIPs and the community. Participation is optional but it’s a great opportunity to show everyone what you have achieved during the program. It is also when you will be presented with your Graduation Certificate.

There is a $1,200 registration fee for successful applicants.

To apply, you DO NOT have to make a video… But it would really help your application if you did! We aren’t looking for fancy production. We want to see who you are and what you’re passionate about. You can film yourself using your smartphone or ask a friend to help you. Don’t forget to make sure your cool product is in there too!

We are looking for applicants that know how to put together a basic budget. You can send us information about your sales so far, your product costings or your forecasted sales to help us decide if you’re suitable for Grow Coastal. If you have never done this before, don’t worry! We will teach you how to price your product, forecast accurately and put together your financials for investment, if you need to.

Yes. You will have the chance to raise early stage funding through our networks (ie. SunCoast & Brisbane Angels) and by pitching your business to investors at our Demo Day at the end of the program.

Yes. Raising investment is useful for many startup businesses, but if you have been trading for a while or do not require external funds, raising investment may not be appropriate for you.

There is no mandatory requirement for crowdfunding in the 2018 program. Crowdfunding is only one option for investment. Being part of the Grow Coastal program gives you and your business the option to launch your campaign alongside your peers as a collective.

This means that you can support each other with raising awareness for your campaigns and benefit from extensive IC and FAN networks and the Grow Coastal PR efforts.

You can also collaborate with your fellow food entrepreneurs and hold promotional events, online marketing campaigns and be as creative as you like as a group. By working together, everyone can benefit from each other’s networks and exposure – we have proven this at previous IC Demo Days and Pitch Competitions. See:

If you’re still unsure about your application or if you have a question that has not been answered here, please get in touch via [email protected] or call Mark Paddenburg on 07 5450 2600

Apply Now for 2019

Applications are now open for 2019. Enter your details and we'll be in touch with more information about the application process and program details.

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