Lighthouse was established by Epicorp Limited with the support of the ACT Government in 2008. The Lighthouse investment was a way for Epicorp to demonstrate its continuing commitment to the development of local and regional enterprises.
The ACT Government saw Lighthouse as a crucial link in its innovation system, which was then spread across a number of initiatives. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of initiatives available to start up enterprises decreased and Lighthouse became more involved in the development and delivery of programs on behalf of the ACT Government.
Lighthouse original charter was to continue the heavy lifting activities conducted successfully by Epicorp to both encourage new business ventures and to support established ventures in the 'technology enabled' industries and services in the ACT and surrounding region. To achieve this, Lighthouse was to provide a range of business programs.
Between 2001 and 2014, Lighthouse's focus on facilitating relationships, providing access to support and funding, targeted mentoring and broad based business development and educational activities at all stages of business development grew rapidly. As a small, flexible organisation whose KPI's where not tied to investment return, Lighthouse was able to respond to changing market needs in a responsive and fluid manner.
From 2008 to 2014 Lighthouse worked with over 2500 unique individuals or enterprises). These enterprises represent well over 5000 unique opportunities or activities. With an additional 3000 participants attending educational events – Lighthouse far surpassed everyone's expectation in relation to service delivery.
In 2014, the ACT Government's changed its policy direction and channelled its 'business development funds' into other activities. By this stage it was clear that Lighthouse had established its brand and credibility and was on the path to becoming a self-sustaining enterprise. On 01 July 2014, LHInnovation Pty Ltd, a company owned by the key Lighthouse staff, acquired Lighthouse. The company continues to grow and provide unique free and for fee services focusing on capability building; providing support and assistance to business; and providing expert skills in a range of management services.
ABOUT EPICORP LIMITED
Epicorp's ICT Commercialisation Incubator provided focussed support for start-up technology based businesses; particularly those based in the ACT.
Epicorp was established in response to a market failure affecting the commercialisation of Australian innovation both from the IT and Communications industry and also from the nation's centres of research. Specifically, a funding gap at the "seed" or "early-stage" level existed where opportunities that had already leveraged grant funding along with sweat equity, but that were not yet on the radar of traditional venture finance were falling through the cracks.
This gap was further compounded by limited access to international capital and partnership opportunities, an immature Angel finance network and difficulties in creating the necessary industry linkages needed for successful institutional commercialisation. Epicorp responded to that challenge by focussing its attention in the high-risk "gap" area with much-needed finance and also by serving as a gateway between the nation's premier research institutions and the target market of their innovation.
In the process, Epicorp amassed a significant amount of intellectual property, corporate knowledge, networks and best practise that it now makes available to Lighthouse.
ABOUT ACT GOVERNMENT
"Governments have a major interest in ensuring that businesses that fall within their jurisdictions are innovative--as business success is reflected in overall economic success as indicated by new business formation, business growth and longer term business sustainability." Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, a Report on a Study of the ACT Innovation System, March 2008.
Canberra is a knowledge intensive city and is distinctive among Australian and global cities for the depth and breadth of its knowledge-based talent and creativity.
From a business and industry perspective Canberra has many advantages over other regions in Australia through the concentration of education and research institutions across the city, the highest concentration of public sector workers in the country - providing significant business opportunities; and investments that have been made in the city by the Australian and ACT Governments over many years.
The ACT Government plays a role in supporting business development by:
- Assisting the formation of new firms by providing support for extensive end-to-end business information, mentoring and advisory services;
- Providing an environment that is supportive of business growth and development; and
- Supporting strategically important industry sectors.