A NSW Government website

Uptown Program 

Teams of businesses in a local area will take part in a new program that will build their capacity and networks and provide an opportunity to later apply for seed funding. Applications closed on Monday 5 September 2022.

About the Uptown Program

Uptown is a two-stage program designed to fast-track the formation of local business communities and facilitate their growth into vibrant 24-hour economy districts.

Read the transcript of the 'Uptown Program' video

Hi, my name is Mike Rodrigues, and I'm the commissioner for the 24-hour Economy with the NSW State Government.

Coming out of the pandemic, we have an opportunity not just to rebuild and recover but to reforge a better version of the city we had, and a better future is possible.

How?

I'm pleased to announce that following on from our successful CBD revitalisation program, applications are now open for Uptown.

It's an accelerator format for those committed to collaboration and place-based storytelling.

Together with a team of expert partners and modelled off the YCK experience, we will offer successful applicants to the program a four week sprint, which covers professional facilitation to help establish a unified vision and story for your district, creative services to build a recognisable and engaging brand and legal support to help teams of businesses to incorporate.

There will also be modules on grant writing, sponsorship and partnership opportunities, and last but not least, pitch training.

The pandemic has shown us that a diversity of revenue streams can help support more sustainable businesses.

Attracting investment from partners in both private and public sector is a worthwhile skill to master.

Hi, I'm Karl Schlothauer and I'm the Vice President of YCK Laneways, which was launched in April 2021.

YCK came together because we knew as individual bar owners we couldn't do it by ourselves.

But as 15 businesses collaborating together we have a louder voice, a stronger message to help encourage people back into the CBD.

With the joint funding from the NSW Government and City of Sydney, YCK put on its first activation called Block Party was six weeks of live music in venues across 15 bars, which saw over 75 events and engaged in 150 artists.

The program very much reflected the diversity of bars in the area, so everyone tailored their offering according to their needs, which meant we had fire dancing, theatre nights, storytelling, tarot card reading, sea shanties and the list goes on.

And then that concluded in a major outdoor event called "Live at Barrack Street", which featured Jared James as the headline supported by Budjerah and D'Arcy Spiller, and also DJ Levins on the decks.

It was a really great night. It's actually the first time that space had been activated for a live event. We got over 250 people turning up, including a couple of celebrities like Guy Sebastian and Amy Shark.

The Block Party's project didn't solely rely on government funding. We had two major commercial partners come on board, American Express and Bacardi Martini Australia.

Also, none of this would have been possible without the help from Time Out for Business as they were our major media partner.

The YCK experience has been fantastic, but what really would have helped at the beginning is having something like Uptown.

Bringing on brand sponsorship, bringing on marketing, writing grant supports, stakeholder engagement, all of these sort of things we just sort of learnt as we went.

But having a framework we could lean on when we needed that support would have been awesome.

So get your team together, talk to other local businesses, read the Admission Guidelines and apply online.

Visit our website for more information investment.nsw.gov.au/Uptown

Stage 1: Uptown Accelerator

The Accelerator will offer teams of businesses representing a distinct geographical area (District Teams) with a capability and connection building program that will:

  • align teams around a vision for their district
  • develop a unique brand for marketing the district
  • provide incorporation and governance support
  • equip teams to secure partners and sponsors
  • develop grant writing skills for the team
  • build a pitch to attract investment into their district.

The Accelerator will require Teams to commit approximately 30 hours in total.

By completing the Accelerator, District Teams will be invited to a Pitch Night to present their districts to commercial partners including brands, businesses, and government agencies.

Download the program schedule (PDF) 38 KB

Stage 2: Uptown Grant Program

By completing the Accelerator, District Teams will have the opportunity to apply for seed funding through the Uptown Grant Program (stage 2) at a later date and subject to meeting the relevant criteria.

Eligibility for stage 1

To be eligible for the Accelerator, applications need to be submitted by a Team comprising three or more members from different organisations who are committed to accelerating their local 24-hour economy district.

The district proposed in the application must be located in Greater Sydney.

Refer to the Accelerator Guidelines (PDF) 976 KB for full eligibility criteria.

Key dates for stage 1

Applications opened on Thursday 4 August 2022 and closed at 11:59pm on Monday 5th September 2022. No late applications will be accepted.  

You can expect to hear the outcome of your application by 30 September 2022. 

How to apply

Applications have now closed.

Read the Accelerator Guidelines (PDF) 976 KB and the supplementary questions and answers

Contact us

 If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact Investment NSW.

Photo credit: Cassandra Hannagan