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Australian incubator serves as role model to start-up clients

By Mary Jo Milillo

December 2008

The Darebin Enterprise Centre Ltd. accepted its first on-site client in January 1998, when the unemployment rate in Alphington, Victoria, Australia, was nearly 14 percent. One of Victoria’s first business incubators, DECL initially sought to create self-employment for people who needed jobs. As the unemployment rate dropped, it shifted its emphasis from individual enterprises to start-up companies looking to expand their businesses and employ more people.

Located at a spot once occupied by a dump and a quarry, DECL now resembles an industrial park complex with services and facilities for light manufacturing, service and horticultural clients. The incubator assists nearly 40 in-house clients in Alphington and 81 businesses at other locations, including more than 30 off-site indigenous businesses across Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

After 15 months of operation, DECL became self-sufficient and has remained so with several revenue sources. On-site clients pay rent (license fees) and some incubator clients pay for services such as access to broadband, phone, copier, bookkeeping, administrative, marketing and business planning.

In recognition of these accomplishments, NBIA presented DECL with the 2008 Incubator of the Year award in the nontechnology category during the 22nd International Conference on Business Incubation in San Antonio. Read on to learn more about the program, which also received Australia’s Incubator of the Year award in 2001 and 2007.

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Keywords: best practices, green entrepreneurship, international incubation, social entrepreneurship

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