A world leader in cultivating new technology entrepreneurs flew in from Canada this week to tell Wollongong to get right behind the city's new business accelerator.
With work about to start on iAccelerate's new facility at the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus, Andrew Jackson said those behind the successful Waterloo accelerator in Ontario were interested in what was happening in Wollongong for a good reason.
They saw the same potential for the accelerator in Wollongong if startups, entrepreneurs, students, business leaders and the Illawarra community continued to get right behind iAccelerate, he said.
And that could bring billions of dollars and create hundreds of jobs within the next decade.
Mr Jackson said since Waterloo's Accelerator Centre opened in 2006 it had supported more than 75 clients, created more than 1000 jobs and earned more than $90 million in revenue. Of those startups, 68 still existed.
Mr Jackson, vice-president programs and client services, was confident Wollongong startups would do similarly amazing things.
"You need to make sure you back what is happening at iAccelerate. It is the rising tide that lifts all boats. If iAccelerate becomes successful, which it will, it just makes everything in your community that much better," he said.
"People are going to have more money, more people are going to want to go to restaurants, people are going to want to go to the theatre and do all sorts of things," he said.
"We at the Accelerator Centre [in Canada] are great at what we do. But if you pick up our building and dropped it in various cities around the world, we would still be good but we would not necessarily be great.
"What makes us great is the fact we have got university support, the fact our politicians back us and the fact there are angel investors."
UOW received $16.5 million from the Illawarra Infrastructure Fund in December.