House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Boosting Female Founders Initiative

7:47 pm

Photo of Dave SharmaDave Sharma (Wentworth, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to congratulate four innovative female-founded and led startups within my own electorate: Kinephonics, In2thewild, Grow Your Mind and Pioneera. All four organisations recently received a grant under the government's Boosting Female Founders Initiative. Those here will know that the Boosting Female Founders Initiative is designed to help female founders of startup businesses to extend their reach to domestic markets, to global markets, to scale their products, to invest in R&D and to take on new workers to help to turn a startup business into a mature business. The funding that we've provided these female founders will assist these entrepreneurs to crossover or bridge some of the boundaries that we often see female founders encounter in terms of accessing capital, accessing mentoring and accessing investors.

The current program for the female founders initiative will see $12 million distributed between 38 worthy female-led businesses. With four recent recipients in my own electorate of Wentworth, I would like to highlight these incredible businesses here today.

Kinephonics is run by founder and CEO Anna Gill and will receive $400,000 of federal funding to support their remarkable neuro rehabilitation pilot program. This pilot will seek to teach non-verbal adults to speak, and this next generation health infrastructure will help combat cognitive decline for many adults. I spoke to Anna just a few weeks ago to congratulate her and was excited to hear about the potential of Kinephonics and her neuro rehabilitation program. My congratulations go to Anna and the Kinephonics team for their transformative approach to the health sector.

In2thewild, another recipient of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative, is an eco-conscious, sustainable business founded by Celeste Giannas that is changing the landscape of tourism. Their sustainable, off-the-grid, transportable and tiny homes are being used by holiday-goers and by those looking for a change in lifestyle across Australia. Celeste will receive $480,000 of funding under this program to help upscale her business. This will give the In2thewild team the opportunity to explore new projects such as using tiny houses to address temporary housing needs.

Kristina Freeman's business Grow Your Mind provides engaging and evidence based mental health strategies for educators, children and their families. Under the program, Grow Your Mind will receive $650,000 of funding to help upscale this wellbeing program. It will allow Kristina and her fellow founders to transition their business to an online platform, so that more educators across more of Australia can access this crucial mental health training.

Finally, with COVID-19 disrupting many workers, the work of the Pioneera group has never been more important. Pioneera, founded by Danielle Owen-Whitford, is a digital platform that conducts linguistic analysis of written communication. It does this via digital communication in workplace settings that measure behaviour and mental states, so that workplaces that have a larger workforce working remotely are able to monitor the stress levels of their workforce and tailor personalised interventions to help address that. This will not only support employees at an individual level; at an enterprise or business level it will help lessen things like workplace sickness, low productivity and low morale. Danielle will receive $275,000 to help her expand the impact of Pioneera during such challenging times. I spoke to Danielle a few weeks ago to hear a little bit more about this exciting business. It monitors the chats in team platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack and others to detect changes in people's language or frequency of communication or response rates to give you a sense of whether people's mental health or awareness or attention is changing. That will allow businesses that would otherwise miss the cues from face-to-face interactions to help monitor the mental health of their employees.

I wanted to pass my congratulations to all of these very talented, capable and worthy female founders for all their entrepreneurial skills and risk-taking—for taking a chance to develop new technology and for helping to build the businesses that will provide the engine of jobs, growth and the economy a long way into the future. The determination of these four individuals, with the assistance of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative, will help keep these Australian founded and female led businesses in Australia—growing, creating jobs and contributing to the strengthening of the Australian economy. I congratulate each of them.