As part of the Hunter JO’s Hunter 2050 project, we have identified that there is a funding shortfall to support the evolution of the regional economy as we experience a global shift in demand for coal. The regional economy needs to evolve to meet this challenge and the opportunities it presents.
In order to fill this investment shortfall, as part of a package of evolutionary actions, the Hunter JO has begun scoping and establishing the Hunter Venture Fund to support the regional innovation ecosystem. The significant challenge that the region faces can be addressed through the right capital flow and a supportive ecosystem that allows for the safe and secure diversification of the region.
The Hunter JO has engaged Henshall Capital to test the market demand and supply of funding in the region and initial indications have suggested that there is a shortfall particularly in seed funding in a range of sectors. This includes energy, manufacturing and health. Seed funding into these sectors could accelerate business diversification, workforce transition, land reuse and further investment across the region.
The Hunter Venture Fund aligns with other regional and state efforts including the State Government’s initiative of establishing a Hunter Expert Panel that will oversee the allocation of funds across regional NSW. The State Government has made a commitment that the Hunter JO will be represented on this panel to provide local, place-based advice on the allocation of funds.
The Hunter is in a special position to determine the flow of funds into coal dependent communities and, combined with our Hunter 2050 initiative, support for the regional innovation ecosystem through the Hunter Venture Fund will be key to ensuring that the region is ready for the impacts of economic evolution.